"Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." - Jerome

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Is Modern Israel the Israel of Biblical Prophecy? (Part 1)

“Judged on biblical grounds, the nation today does not pass divine muster as a nation living in covenant obedience to God. The promise to possess the land is directly tied to the nation’s response to Messiah. Though its international right to the land can be well defended, Israel’s divine right by covenant to possess it today has only sentiment in its favor.”

-Classical Dispensationalist Charles Dyer, Dean of Moody Bible Institute

1948 was a seemingly providential year. Against all odds and many enemies, the modern state of Israel was founded, and then defended against invasion. The founding of Israel struck a hopeful note, after the events earlier in that decade, finding a home for those persecuted and unwanted Hebrew people of Eastern Europe. The founding resulted from the unfortunate simultaneous rise of nationalism and racism in Europe that precluded a tolerance of the Hebrew race while at the same time in the Middle East offering a place of a promise of rest from such things. These factors, however, where not the reasons American Christians looked with intense interest to modern Israel. Many American Christians marveled at the founding of a nation with some hereditary link to the Israel of their Old Testament. The event was taken as an omen, a fulfillment of God’s promise of the land to Abraham of Genesis 15. The amazing feat was confirmed by the defense of Israel in 1967 (see Oren’s Six Days of War) and 1973 (See Yom Kippur War) from invasion against great numbers. Both of these events were testaments to Western ways of war and the determination of a people refusing to be consigned to history by European or Arab racism.

It is my contention however that it cannot be established from Scripture that the birth of the modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of prophecy. We have grown up in a time where global events, from WWII to the birth of the state of Israel to the Cold War has led us into a practice of reading our Bible in one hand with a newspaper in the other. Entire ministries like Jack Van Impe, John Hagee, and various publications have been launched on this practice. It is, however, an improper, unhelpful and hermeneutically dangerous practice. The practice preceded the founding of modern Israel, but certainly was sped up by the event. I want to look at the reasons the modern state of Israel is not the fulfillment of prophecy, look at how we are to read Scripture passages about Israel and perhaps take a short look at the practice of newspaper exogesis. I will have more time to do so after Friday, so this is merely a preview and statement of intent. I hope to be back with the substance of the argument shortly.

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