Meditorial Kingdom Debate - Restoration View 2

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Part Six - Theological Debate of the Meditorial Kingdom
Restoration Theory – Part two

 

Last time we covered the historical development of the Restoration position. It is the belief of the restoration position that God’s covenant with Israel was unconditional and thus eternal. Because of this unconditional nature, God is fully responsible to fulfill all the promises He made to Israel. This being the case all the prophecies given concerning the Second Coming of Christ will be fulfilled as literally as the prophecies concerning His First Coming. This means that the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy (Dan. 9:24-27) is going to be fulfilled sometime in the future. Called the Tribulation, it will bring greater turmoil and destruction upon this earth and its occupants than caused by the global flood of Noah’s day (Matt. 24:21). Jesus adds that if this period were any longer not one speck of life would be left on the planet (Matt24:22). All of this will happen to accomplish several things. 

1) First, to bring Israel back to her God as a nation so that God can give her the Kingdom and land He promised her

2) Second, to bring an end to Gentile world rule and the continual conflict between nations thus ushering in a time of peace that man has never experienced before

3) Third, to restore all of creation back to its pre-fallen condition as God originally created it (Rom. 8:19-23)

4) Fourth, to establish a world government with its Head, Jesus Christ who will rule and reign along with His OT and NT Saints.

5) Fifth, to free man from the dominion of Satan as he is cast and chained in the abyss for a 1000 years (Rev. 20:1-3)

As we saw earlier, this is in complete contradiction to the Replacement position. It is their contention that Israel’s covenant with God was conditional and because Israel broke it, God has nullified it and chosen another Israel which He has called the Church. In their view, the 2nd coming prophecies are to be fulfilled in a spiritual or allegorical sense in and through the Church. The Church is therefore the “Kingdom of God” on earth and there will be no future literal physical Kingdom. They believe that suddenly Christ will appear, destroy this present earth and heaven, resurrect and judge all men, and then create a New Heavens and a New Earth for all the Saints to dwell. Likewise, because Israel has fallen from grace, they no longer have a deed to the land of Canaan. This is of course a hot issue today both in the religious and secular forums.

The question then is who is right about this matter? Does modern Israel still have a legitimate deed to the Land? Is there going to be a future removal of all the Church Saints followed by a seven year Tribulation and then a 1000 year Kingdom ruled by Christ? Is the Church the replacement of Israel or a temporary substitute for her while God chastens her?

This whole issue surrounds one key teaching of Scripture. Our understanding of God’s teaching on this matter will determine which side we embrace. The teaching in question is the nature of the covenant God made with Israel. Was it conditional or unconditional? 

As we saw last time, it was the position of the Israelite scholars of the OT and the teaching of the Apostles in the NT that God’s promise with Israel was unconditional. By this we mean that the fulfillment of this covenant did not rest upon the shoulders of Israel but rather was totally dependent on the faithfulness and power of our Sovereign God. Let us take a closer look at unconditional nature of this covenant as it is given in the both the Old and New Testament.

To begin this study we must start with Gen 15. In this account God tells Abraham that the land of Canaan would be his inheritance (7). Abraham responds by asking how He will know this (8). God commands Abraham to take some animals, cut them in half and lay their parts opposite each other on the ground making a path through the middle of them (9-11). This seems a strange thing to do in our day and time but in Abraham’s time it was a routine event when an important covenant or contract was to be made. The killing of the animals and the passing between their halves symbolized how serious the covenant was and how obligated the participants were to keep it. In essence, “may the same fate happen to me that has happened to these animals if I do not fulfill my obligations stated in the covenant.” What is especially important to note here is that when it came time to pass between the animal halves in order to confirm the covenant, God places a special sleep upon Abraham (12). In this sleep Abraham is aware of the seriousness of the covenant being made and he is also aware of what God is doing. While Abraham is observing, God alone walks between the animals and gives the deed of the land to Abraham and his descendents (17-21). The fact that God only passed between the animals indicates that God alone was responsible for the fulfillment of this covenant. It would not be based on what Israel would do or not do. God would see to it that eventually all of the land given would be possessed by Israel in a millennial Kingdom.

The unconditional nature of this covenant is seen repeated over and over in the Scriptures. Let me share just a few of the many verses that confirm this point. Please note how often God uses the terms “I and Mine” to declare the covenant is His responsibility and also the terms “everlasting and eternal” to identify the duration of the covenant.

Gen 17:7-8, “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.”

Gen 17:13, “Whether born in your household or bought with your money, they must be circumcised. My covenant in your flesh is to be an everlasting covenant.”

Gen 17:19, “Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.”

1 Chr 16:15-17, “He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant:”

Ps 105:10-11, “He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: "To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit."”

Isa 61:7-9, “ Instead of their shame my people will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace they will rejoice in their inheritance; and so they will inherit a double portion in their land, and everlasting joy will be theirs. "For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery and iniquity. In my faithfulness I will reward them and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be known among the nations and their offspring among the peoples. All who see them will acknowledge that they are a people the LORD has blessed."

Jer 32:37-40, “I will surely gather them from all the lands where I banish them in my furious anger and great wrath; I will bring them back to this place and let them live in safety. They will be my people, and I will be their God. I will give them singleness of heart and action, so that they will always fear me for their own good and the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me.”

Jer 50:3-5, “A nation from the north will attack her and lay waste her land. No one will live in it; both men and animals will flee away. "In those days, at that time," declares the LORD, "the people of Israel and the people of Judah together will go in tears to seek the LORD their God. They will ask the way to Zion and turn their faces toward it. They will come and bind themselves to the LORD in an everlasting covenant that will not be forgotten.”

Ezek 16:59-63, “"'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will deal with you as you deserve, because you have despised my oath by breaking the covenant. Yet I will remember the covenant I made with you in the days of your youth, and I will establish an everlasting covenant with you. Then you will remember your ways and be ashamed when you receive your sisters, both those who are older than you and those who are younger. I will give them to you as daughters, but not on the basis of my covenant with you. So I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am the LORD. Then, when I make atonement for you for all you have done, you will remember and be ashamed and never again open your mouth because of your humiliation, declares the Sovereign LORD.'"

Ezek 37:24-28, “"'My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd. They will follow my laws and be careful to keep my decrees. They will live in the land I gave to my servant Jacob, the land where your fathers lived. They and their children and their children's children will live there forever, and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish them and increase their numbers, and I will put my sanctuary among them forever. My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Then the nations will know that I the LORD make Israel holy, when my sanctuary is among them forever.'"

Those in the Replacement camp will quickly point out that Israel sinned against God and ultimately committed the unforgivable sin of rejecting their Messiah Savior at His first Coming. They say because of Israel’s sin God has chosen to no longer honor His Covenant. However, many passages in the both the Old and New Testament speak of God’s work of restoring Israel spiritually and physically regardless of their sinful past. The following are but a sample of the many passages that center on this theme.

Ezek 20:37-40, “I will take note of you as you pass under my rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant. I will purge you of those who revolt and rebel against me. Although I will bring them out of the land where they are living, yet they will not enter the land of Israel. Then you will know that I am the LORD. "'As for you, O house of Israel, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: Go and serve your idols, every one of you! But afterward you will surely listen to me and no longer profane my holy name with your gifts and idols. For on my holy mountain, the high mountain of Israel, declares the Sovereign LORD, there in the land the entire house of Israel will serve me, and there I will accept them. There I will require your offerings and your choice gifts, along with all your holy sacrifices.”

Ezek 37:11-15, “Then he said to me: "Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, 'Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.' Therefore prophesy and say to them: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'" The word of the LORD came to me:”

Matt 23:37-39, “"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'"”

Rom 10:19-21, “Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, "I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding." And Isaiah boldly says, "I was found by those who did not seek me; I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me." But concerning Israel he says, "All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people."”

Rom 11:1-5, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "Lord , they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

Rom 11:23-27, “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree! I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."”

It could also be noted at this point that in Malachi 4:5-6, the last two verses in the OT, God foretold that when the Kingdom was at hand, Elijah the prophet would be sent forth to prepare the heart of Israel to receive her Messiah. When we get to the book of Revelation, Israel plays a key role in the events that transpire in the Tribulation. In Rev. 11:1-6, Elijah and another prophet go forth to prepare the hearts of Israel for the Coming of their King (see Matt. 16:28-17:4). Likewise in Rev. 7:1-8 and 14:1, 144,000 thousand Jewish men will be sealed by God for two reasons. The first reason, that they might be missionaries to take the gospel to the world (Matt. 24:14) and the second reason, that they might survive the Tribulation in order to play a role in the re-establish of the nation of Israel. Also in Rev. 12, God speaks of the fact that at the midpoint of the Tribulation Satan and his army are cast from heaven and they go forth to destroy the nation of Israel. However, God provides for them deliverance, a place to hide, and food to last to the end of the Tribulation.

It is clear from Scripture that God is in charge of the covenant He made with Israel and through His Sovereignty, God will see it ultimately fulfilled. The Replacement camp will tell us that we can not take these passages literally because Israel is out of God’s program. They must be spiritualized to apply them to the Church. However, it is interesting that these same people will argue strongly that all the prophecy given concerning the first coming of Christ is to be taken literally. They will also argue that we must interpret all other Scriptures literally as well. If the First Coming prophecies were fulfilled literally and all the rest of Scripture is to be interpreted literally, it would only make sense that those passages relating to the 2nd Coming of Christ should be interpreted literally as well. The only reason they spiritualize the 2nd Coming prophecies is because it is the only way to fit their “conditional theology” to the present Church Age. They have no verse or passage that indicates that 2nd Coming prophecies should be taken any other way than literally therefore they have no grounds for rejecting the literal sense of these passages.

To summarize this, it is very clear that God still intends to fulfill all His prophecies concerning the 2nd Coming in a literal manner. It is also clear that Israel is still God’s chosen people and still in God’s program. With this in view, it can be asserted that Israel today has a right to the land of Canaan. Not just the small portion she possess today, but also the Gaza strip, the Sinai, the West Bank, Lebanon, portions of Syria, and even Iraq and Turkey. God has given her this deed and no nation or ruler or army or world government has any right to deprive her of it. Since these things are true, then with the restoration of the nation of Israel and the current changes taking place in the world today, the day of the Lord maybe closer than one might think. Are you ready if the Lord were to come back today to go to be with Him in heaven? Will you be left to endure the most severe tribulation that this world has ever know? The choice is yours. Have you placed your trust in Jesus Christ alone to take away your sins and to rescue you from hell? There is no better day to do so then today!