Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Lesson 5: A Future Kingdom for Israel (Part 7)

Territorial Promises

As we have seen, non-dispensationalists argue that the inspired commentary on the Old Testament, viz., the New Testament, teaches that many of the promises made to Israel are in fact realized in the church.

It is also true, according to the critics, that the Old Testament often testifies to the complete fulfillment of some land promises that dispensationalists teach will not be discharged by God until the millennium.

Consider the territorial promises made to the Jews in light of the following passages:

So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war. (Josh. 11:23)

So the LORD gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. (Josh. 21:43)

"Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. (Josh. 23:14)

20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon's subjects all his life. (1 Kings 4:20-21)

According to non-dispensationalists, these and other passages teach that territorial promises have already been satisfied. There is nothing further that demands a millennial Jewish theocracy.

Fueled by these and other Old Testament passages and the previously discussed New Testament passages, critics go on to attack the dispensational literal hermeneutic. The argument is along these lines:

  • Dispensational literalism is faulty because it leads to claims of unfulfilled prophecy that are refuted by historic (non-prophetic) scripture, the very scripture for which it is more reasonable to take a literalistic approach. In other words, dispensationalism digs in its literalistic heels in all the wrong places.

  • Consequently (according to critics), all conclusions resulting from the simplistic literal approach are suspect. In particular, the radical distinction between Israel and the church looses its footing.

  • Once the radical distinction between the church and Israel is removed, the pretribulation rapture comes tumbling down with it.

Next we will examine critiques of the pretribulation rapture that are more direct.

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