Romans 11:28-32: God’s Gifts: Part Three
- NT interpreting the OT
- Eschatology interpreting protology
- Fulfilment interpreting prophecy
Is Israel the Holy Land today? Is there an unconditional promise to Abraham that must see its fulfilment in blood descendants of Abraham, living in the literal land of Israel and enjoying political, agricultural and social blessings under a revived worship system? Can we justify any atrocities committed by the Israeli armed forces as part and parcel of holy war and justified as Joshua and Caleb were in the OT? The land of Israel has a special place in the heart of every Christian because it is where so much of our spiritual history takes place, and where Jesus Himself walked and spilled His blood. The desire to see the place and be able to visualise more accurately some of the places we hear of in the Bible sets our hearts on pilgrimage. Add to this deep desire some more modern views on how prophecy should be interpreted and you get Christians who are fixated on the land of Israel and God’s plan for the Jews. I have feared to preach more on Romans 11 and God’s plan for Israel than Romans 9 and the reality of unconditional election because we are so invested and certain views of Israel that a person’s Christianity hangs in the balance if you don’t have a certain view of prophecy.
Today we are going to have our third and final look at Romans 11:28-32. We have been looking at the gifts and calling of God that are irrevocable. We have highlighted that there are those who believe that these gifts and callings are to be seen as the literal fulfilment of all the OT prophecies which usually come from a Dispensational position. We have highlighted that in the book of Romans the words ‘gift’ and ‘calling’ relate primarily to salvation blessings and are not indications of a reinstitution of the temple, the priesthood, nor the land as God’s end game for Israel. We have tried to show how many of those promises of the OT find a better than literal fulfilment in Christ. In Christ we have and are a better temple than Ezekiel’s temple, in Christ we have superior sacrifices and a better and eternal highpriesthhood that can never be replaced or followed by another. Today we are going to be looking at the holy cow of many Christians, a hobby horse and darling of many prophetic positions. What is God’s plan for the land of Israel? Is the land going to return to the centre stage of God’s plan of salvation for Israel and the world? All Premillennial views say yes, looking to the millennium as the time and place that the land will once again take centre stage. Today I would like to kick a hornets nest and say no!
All differences over prophecy come down to different methods of interpreting the bible, your method of interpretation will determine your beliefs. What is the safest hermeneutic when interpreting God’s word? To let scripture interpret scripture! It sounds simple but many of our assumptions about how we think God will speak about things have to be dumped when we realise how the bible interprets itself. In order to be truly submitted to scripture we not only have to have it as our ultimate source of truth, but we must also listen to it when it tells us how we are to interpret it. Many people claim the bible as their ultimate authority; the issue is whether we are consistent with how it interprets itself. So today we want to hear how the bible speaks of the land of Israel. Firstly, we want to listen to the NT interpret the OT; secondly, we want to see how the bible ends determines how we read the beginning and middle parts; and thirdly, we want to look at how the bible itself sees prophecies being fulfilled. Before we kick off let me say two things, firstly, be aware that every single one of you already has a set of assumptions about how things should be interpreted. You are 21st century people who have been exposed to various forms of theology and had certain shared experiences of education. Secondly, there will be certain things that you assume are correct yet the bible will challenge. I ask you to learn from and submit to scripture. Test all that I say that it is indeed what the bible says, let your conscience be bound by that alone not your traditions or even my opinions.
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