Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Question of Israel and the End Times

I've reached Chapter 11 in the book of Romans in my reading of Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones commentaries and have been fascinated to learn more about the whole subject of Israel. I realise it has been quite a hot topic in past times but did realise that my understanding of the issue of Israel needs expansion. The more I read about what Dr Lloyd-Jones had to expound on the subject of Israel, the more thrilled I became. I found reading Romans 11 in the presence of Dr Lloyd-Jones tremendously exciting and stirring particularly in the context of a victorious eschatology.

It seems to me that one of the key problems facing any understanding of eschatology is deciding how to interpret Scripture. Because Romans 11 makes a very clear and decisive statement in v25;

"For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery-- so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-- that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in".

That statement seems to say to me that a promise is yet to be fulfilled - Israel will come into the Kingdom of God but that promise won't be fulfilled until a particular event has happened. Namely the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Dr Ll0yd-Jones makes some particularly valuable comments on this;

"It is part of that glorious hope that we have as children of God. I do not mean the Second Coming. I mean something that is going to be witnessed before the Lord returns. What is it? The bulk of the nation of Israel will be converted to Christ and come into the church. What will this lead to? A confirmation of our faith! A tremendous proof of the inspiration of Scripture!".

One of the tendancies in eschatological intepretation is to assign many things to occur after the Second Coming. Yet Dr Ll0yd-Jones makes it clear he does not see the ingrafting of the Jewish nation after the Second Coming - it can't! He goes on;

"Now my argument is that the Apostle is concerned in the whole of this chapter with the Jews as a "nation" and he is going to substantiate his statement that a day is coming when, as a whole, they will come in".

Yet Dr Lloyd-Jones sees a connection - a paralell between the two. He argues;

"As the fullness of the Jews means the Jews as a nation, as a whole, so the fullness of the Gentiles means exactly the same thing, the Gentiles in general. The Gentile "world" as it were will have to come in and when that has happened, the same is going to happen to the Jews".

I realise that the whole issue of Israel isn't something primary to the Gospel - some would argue. But I still stand convinced that how we view the end times does indeed affect how we live in the present. And I find this whole matter and this book of sermons by the Doctor tremendously exciting. There are so many promises that have been fulfilled in Scripture and we can rejoice in them. But let us not forget that some prophecies have yet to be fulfilled and it could be that we could be the recipients of awesome grace by being observers of the outworking of God bringing His government to rule in the earth through His Bride, the Church!

1 comment:

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