Israel Part Three

Today’s article continues the discussion about Israel.

Dean Davis wrote a comment on Justin Taylor’s post discussing Jesus as the New Israel:

Jesus taught that he had not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). However, in fulfilling the various institutions of the Mosaic Law, he was indeed replacing them with new ones, once and for all. The anti-type (the New Covenant) fulfills the type (the Old Covenant), and so replaces it. The greater fulfills the lesser, and so supplants it. The heavenly body, shaped in eternity past, fulfills the earthly shadow, and so floods the room with a light that expels all shadows. There is no going back (Hebrews 8:13).

In order to understand the idea of fulfillment and replacement better, let us consider a few examples, drawn more or less exclusively from the teaching of the Herald of the Kingdom himself.

Jesus presented himself as the supreme Mediator, a greater than Moses, bringing in a new and greater covenant. Christ and his covenant are therefore replacing Moses and his.

Jesus is also the supreme Prophet, a greater than Moses, Elijah, or John the Baptist, and so replaces all former prophets as the authoritative spokesman of God and teacher of his people (Matthew 17:1f, Matthew. 23:10, Mark 8:28, John 9:17, Acts 3:22).

He is the supreme Priest, a greater than Levi, and so replaces Levi as the one who intercedes for God’s people (Luke 23:34, John 17), offers sacrifice for their sin (John 10:11, 17:19), and assures the penitent of God’s mercy and forgiveness (Matthew 9:2, Luke 7:48, 24:43, John 20:23).

He is the supreme Sacrifice, a greater than all the animal sacrifices offered under the Law, and so replaces them as the one Lamb of God who gives his life a ransom for many, thereby taking away the sin of the world (Mark 10:45, John 1:29).

He is the true Temple, a greater than Herod’s, and so replaces Herod’s with his own Body, which is the true Tabernacle of God (Matthew 12:6, John 2:19, John 10:38, Ephesians 2, 5).

Moreover, because of this, his people no longer worship the Father on earthly Zion, but on the Zion above, in spirit and in truth, whenever they wish and wherever their physical bodies happen to be. In short, NT worship in spirit and truth replaces OT worship in Jerusalem (John 4:21f, 14:20, 17:23, Galatians 4:26, Hebrews 12:22, Revelation 14:1f).

He is the true Sabbath, a greater than the Israelite Sabbath, and Lord over it, with authority from God to give his people true spiritual rest, as well as the Spirit-led worship and work that properly arise from it (Matthew 11:28, 12:48, John 6:29, 15:1f, 19:30).

He is the true Passover Lamb—and his death the true Passover sacrifice—so that henceforth the Passover Feast is replaced with the Lord’s Supper, wherein Christ’s people remember, celebrate, and re-appropriate their great deliverance from the world, the flesh, and the devil (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23, John 5:24, 1 Corinthians 11:17f).

Very importantly, his is the true nation (Matthew 21:43), the true flock (John 10:16), the true household (Mark 13:34, Luke 14:23, John 8:35), and the true city (Matthew 5:14) of God, so that Christ’s Church of called out Jews and Gentiles replaces ethnic Israel (who are still beloved for the sake of the fathers, Romans 11:28)—as the true people of God (Matthew 16:18).

And over this nation he rules as the supreme King, a greater than David (Matthew 22:41-46) and Solomon (Matthew 12:24), and so replaces Israel’s many earthly kings with a single heavenly: the High King of Heaven and Earth, the divine Lord of the “Israel of God” (Matthew 28:18f, Luke 19:12, John 18:36, Galatians 6:16).

Much more could be said on this point, and in their letters to the early Christian churches the apostles say it. However, from what we have seen so far, it is quite clear that the Lord Jesus viewed the institutions of the Mosaic Law as temporary physical “types” pointing forward to the permanent spiritual realities of the New Covenant. This truth is profoundly important for a solid, NT understanding of biblical eschatology.

Why Church Membership? Fellowship

We cannot be completely obedient to all of Scripture if we are not intentionally and covenantally pursuing deep fellowship with one another in general, but also inter-generationally with older and younger people.

In other words, in order to be obedient as Whole-Bible Christians, we must commit ourselves as a member of a local body so that we can practice intergenerational discipleship. This means, we must be pursuing the hard work of getting to know someone older and/or younger than us. Then and only then, are we able to obey many of the intergenerational commands in Scripture.

Further, to deny others the privilege and responsibility of pursuing fellowship with you (and others) can be a form of disobedience.

Leaving a church because “no one talks to me” simply shows that not only are the others at that church disobedient but so are you. One-anothering is a two way street.

Bible passages essential for us to understand and develop healthy relationships by knowing we are called to One Another:

Israel Part Two

RC Sproul answers the question, Is It True That God Blesses Those Who Bless Israel and Curses Those Who Curse Israel?1

Sproul writes, the non-Dispensational view “affirms that that Israel which is actually Israel, just as with the promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, applies to those who are in Christ, who trust in His finished work.” He continues, the non-Dispensational view “see[s] this is as the outworking of the truth of Galatians 3:7– ‘Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.’ We …do not believe God replaced Israel with the church. We believe instead that there has always been only one people of God, those who believe.”

Justin Taylor discusses the topic Jesus As the New Israel2

Taylor explains, “The New Testament authors understood Jesus to be the culmination of the Old Testament.”

Here is a good, concise summary of the Israel/remnant theme from a New Testament perspective:

. . . Jesus had become a remnant of one. He was the embodiment of faithful Israel, the truly righteous and suffering servant.

Unlike the remnant of the restoration period, he committed no sin (Isaiah 53:9; 1 Peter 2:22).

As the embodiment of the faithful remnant, he would undergo divine judgment for sin (on the cross), endure an exile (three days forsaken by God in the grave), and experience a restoration (resurrection) to life as the foundation of a new Israel, inheriting the promises of God afresh.

As the remnant restored to life, he becomes the focus of the hopes for the continued existence of the people of God in a new kingdom, a new Israel of Jew and Gentile alike.

As the nucleus of a renewed Israel, Christ summons the “little flock” that will receive the kingdom (Daniel 7:22, 27; Luke 12:32) and appoints judges for the twelve tribes of Israel in the new age (Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30).

The church is viewed as the Israel of that new age (Galatians 6:16), the twelve tribes (James 1:1), “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).

A sinful nation, Israel could not suffer vicariously to atone for the sins of the world. The sinfulness of the nation made it unacceptable for this role, just as flaws would disqualify any other offering. Only a truly righteous servant could bear this awful load.

—Tremper Longman III and Raymond B. Dillard, “Isaiah,” An Introduction to the Old Testament, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 315.

The two best books I’ve read on this fulfillment theme are Hans LaRondelle’s The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of Prophetic Interpretation and David Holwerda’s Jesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two? (Keith Mathison has a good review of Holwerda’s volume here.)

Jesus is the true Israel, and the church becomes the Israel of God as it unites to True Israel. The same is true for ethnic Israel, whom God has not abandoned. But their only hope is to be united with Jesus, the ultimate suffering servant.

References

1 Is It True That God Blesses Those Who Bless Israel and Curses Those Who Curse Israel?

2 Jesus As the New Israel

Answering Doubts – Entering NeoModernism

Doubt has changed the landscape of (American) Christendom. At one point, it was cool to question everything without trying to find real answers (Emergent anyone?). Although, this is certainly an overstated and simplistic view, the point still stands; I am not saying doubt is not a real issue, though.

Doubts are real

People are truly wrestling with the tension of what they have been taught and what they see and experience in real life.

Our society has moved from Modernism (“This is true”) to Post-Modernism (“Is this true?” “What is true for you is not true for me”) to a Neo-Modernism (“the answers I was given don’t hold enough weight for me to accept them”).

The answers are not failing as answers, however. I believe they are couched in the wrong verbiage. This does not mean we change the answers. We change how the answers are expressed.

I am not advocating the dumbing down of our answers. We are not talking with five year olds. We are talking to adults who have potentially faith-alleviating doubts.

I am advocating the rewording of our answers in a thoughtful, meaningful, and concerned way.

Modernism was a double-edged sword

Modernism was a blessing and a curse. The silver bullet approach to answering skeptics years ago has lost its effectiveness. Those answers are shrugged off like water off a duck’s back.

Many reasons attribute to this. One significant reason is biblical illiteracy. But more to the point, foundations for the “silver bullet” answers of yesteryear have disappeared. The building blocks which establish the answers have been eroding beyond recognition or have been completely dropped out of the collective discussion.

In other words, we are somewhat used to giving a simple answer to a question and people accepting that answer (whatever it is), but that was because the groundwork for the answer was already laid because biblical literacy was more common then than now.

The Solution

The issue is immensely complex. The solutions are even more complexly difficult to implement. But here is a starting point for furthering the discussion:

  1. Prayer ala Mark 9:14-29 “Why weren’t our answers to the questions good enough?” 29 And he said to them, “This question cannot be answered by anything but prayer.”
  2. Time – We need to spend a TON of time with those who have the questions
  3. Effort – We need to demonstrate our love for others in the difficult process of digging for answers
  4. Build Biblical Literacy – We need to construct anew the foundation for our answers

What do you have to add?

Orphan Care Ministry Spotlight – Miracle Hill

This series highlights organizations that, in my estimation, are on the frontlines of mercy ministries, but not just any mercy ministries. They are ministries focusing on orphan care. They’ve taken James 1:27 to heart.

Miracle Hill Ministries

75 years ago, Miracle Hill Ministries began as a small rescue mission in downtown Greenville. Since then, we have grown with the Upstate — expanding to meet the changing and diverse needs of homeless, hungry and destitute people. With your help we have become a significant provider of homeless services in South Carolina.

With locations in four upstate counties: Greenville, Spartanburg, Pickens and Cherokee, Miracle Hill operates four adult shelters, two children’s shelters, an emergency food outreach and eight thrift stores. We are also home to two highly successful, Christ-centered addiction recovery programs: Renewal for women, and Overcomers for men.

Where did the name Miracle Hill come from?

As the story goes, many years ago, a group was working on the foundation of a building they had no money to build. One day, a rain storm was approaching the hill upon which they were working. They stopped and prayed that the Lord would hold the storm off so they could finish.

When the storm reached the bottom of the hill, it split and went around the hill on either side. When they were finished, someone quipped, “What a miracle hill!!” And so, the name was chosen then and there.

What does Miracle Hill offer?

Miracle Hill Children’ Home continues to be known as a place of refuge for children from birth to age 18.

Miracle Hill Boys’ Shelter was established to care for at-risk, abused and neglected boys.

Miracle Hill’s foster care program is a great opportunity to serve God within your own home.

Homes for Life, An Outreach of Miracle Hill – seeks to provide shelter and support services to homeless young men ages 17-21.

Miracle Hill Rescue Missions
Greenville • Spartanburg • Cherokee County

Shepherd’s Gate became part of the Miracle Hill family on February 14, 1993.

Miracle Hill Relief Ministry was acquired in 1995 to serve as an emergency food outreach for families and individuals in need.

The Overcomers program is a 27-week, addiction recovery program with a twelve-step, Christian-based curriculum. A 30 day pre-program is required.

The Renewal program was established in 1997 in answer to the growing demand for women who need a more structured, long-term program to help them deal with life-dominating problems.

Transitional housing provides a halfway point between the strict accountability of life within one of our shelters and the onslaught of temptations beyond our walls.

Donating to Miracle Hill is easy with seven thrift store locations, several drop box locations and a local pickup service.

If you are looking for a decent vehicle at a reasonable price, consider Miracle Hill Auto Sales.

Miracle Hill Thrift Operations began the yellow bag project as a convenient way to donate unwanted items.

Check out Miracle Hill‘s website http://www.miraclehill.org for more information about the ministry and how YOU can get involved.

And watch some of their videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/MiracleHillUpstate?feature=watch.

Why Church Membership? Our Leaders

Why Church Membership? For The Sake of our Leaders

Hebrews 13:17 “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Submit in covenantal humility to let our leaders lead us with joy and not with groaning, for that would be no advantage to you.

Allow your leaders to know for whom they will give an account to God. Help make their leading be with joy and not groaning.