35 Comments

My Journey Out of Dispensationalism


It brings me great joy when The Holy Spirit leads me to a message or article which pertains to an issue or topic recently posted and/or discussed here.  The message below is a case in point.

From Sharper Iron: My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

My friends have often heard me say, “The more I read my Bible the less dispensational I become.”

This statement comes from someone who was spiritually nurtured in churches with dispensational theology, who graduated from a Christian university steeped in dispensational theology, who received his first graduate degree from a dispensational seminary, and who—for twelve years—preached sermons that reflected dispensational theology. For the first sixteen years of my Christian life, I rarely questioned the fundamental distinctions of dispensational theology. What are those distinctions? In his discussion of what he called the “sine qua non of dispensationalism,”

Ryrie asserted:

“A dispensationalist keeps Israel and the Church distinct … . This is probably the most basic theological test of whether or not a man is a dispensationalist, and it is undoubtedly the most practical and conclusive”  (Ryrie 44-45).

Later he concluded:

“the essence of dispensationalism, then, is the distinction between Israel and the Church” (Ryrie 47).

As a dispensationalist I studied my Bible with the understanding that God had dual and separate plans for Israel and the church. I understood this “church age” to be somewhat parenthetical until God resumed His plan with the nation of Israel. I believed that the Abrahamic covenant and all the other Old Testament covenants were essentially for national Israel, and that only the soteriological benefits of the covenants belonged to the church.

As I continued to pastor and preach, I realized that my training in the Old Testament was weak. I decided to pursue a Master of Theology in Old Testament at Westminster Theological Seminary. My dispensational comrades in ministry assured me that Westminster would ruin my theology. I suppose many of them believe that has happened. Nevertheless, I was drawn to Westminster primarily because Bruce Waltke was teaching there. I had read books and articles by Dr. Waltke and had profited immensely from them.

While at Westminster I had the privilege of learning from Vern Poythress, Tremper Longman, and Raymond Dillard, along with Bruce Waltke. At first I listened as an antagonist, but I was soon won over by their personal graciousness and their commitment to Scripture. I began to experience discomfort as I realized that my commitment to dispensationalism was often unyielding, even when contradicted by the results of exegesis. These words from the introduction to my Th.M thesis summarize my response at that time:

Exegesis often eviscerates one’s theological presuppositions. When a theological bulwark withstands the penetration of biblical exegesis, its tenets remain secure. However, if its walls crumble beneath the weight of incisive and precise exegesis, then one must abandon the fortress and construct a better one (Davis, 1990, 1).

During the course of my study at Westminster, Bruce Waltke was my faculty advisor. I was privileged to have a number of personal discussions with him regarding the uneasiness I felt in questioning dispensationalism. As I considered what to research for my Th.M thesis, he suggested a topic that would be beneficial to me on my journey and helpful to others. I wrote “A Critical Evaluation of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism.” The writing of that thesis opened a door and gave me a gentle push toward my eventual departure from dispensationalism.

As I worked through the exegesis of the Abrahamic Covenant and the hermeneutical issues surrounding it, I came to this conclusion:

Through an inductive study, this paper has arrived at a position that approximates covenant theology, namely, that that covenants confirm and explicate the program by which God redeems a people for Himself. It has been established that Israel and the church need to be perceived as sub-categories of a larger concept, i.e. the people of God. The Abrahamic covenant is not the beginning of the people of God, but rather God’s redemptive means, after the rebellion at Babel and the dispersion, to reclaim a fallen world to Himself. The Abrahamic covenant needs to be viewed in its relation to God’s purposes for the entire world, not simply His purposes for a nation. The Abrahamic covenant needs to viewed in light of the inauguration of eschatological times with the first advent of Jesus Christ, as well as the consummation of eschatology at the second advent (Davis 109).

Since those years at Westminster, I have continued to think about these issues and have become more and more convinced that exegesis and biblical theology do not support the sine qua non of dispensationalism (i.e., the distinction between Israel and the church). Since Christ is the final and fullest revelation of God, I now see that the Old Testament anticipated Christ and finds its interpretation and fulfillment in Christ.

In the New Testament—apart from well-debated text in Romans 11:25-27—there is not even a hint of a future restoration of the nation of Israel to the land.

Of the seventy four references to Abraham in the New Testament, not one clearly focuses on the “earthly” elements of the covenant. Even the acceptance of a mass conversion of Israelites at some future time does not demand a return to a former order of things.

Take, for example, the Apostle Paul’s discussion of the relationship of the law to saving faith, in Galatians 3.

He introduces Abraham as a paradigm of saving faith and of inclusion in the promises of God. In the course of his discussion, the apostle makes interpretive statements based on his understanding of the Genesis passages. These reflect on the Abrahamic covenant. These statements are as follows:

1) – “Those who believe are children of Abraham” (Gal. 3:7).

2) -“The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: ’All nations will be blessed through you’” (Gal. 3:8).

3) - “Those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham” (Gal. 3:9).

4) – “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” (Gal. 3:14).

5) – “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).

6) - “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe” (Gal. 3:22).

Paramount in these verses is the redemptive significance of the Abrahamic covenant as it finds its consummation in the person of Jesus Christ. Christ, as the quintessential seed of Abraham, is both the guarantor and inheritor of the promises of the covenant.

Relationship with Christ, established by emulating the faith of Abraham, guarantees one’s participation in the promises of the covenant. It is not the keeping of the law or physical descent from Abraham that constitutes one as a child of Abraham, but rather faith in Jesus Christ.

These verses sanction the redemptive nature of the Abrahamic covenant. They confirm that covenant as the unifying factor between Jews and Gentiles, and they substantiate the view that there is one people of God of all ages that share the covenants of Scripture which find their consummation in Christ.

Strikingly, Paul perceives redemption in Christ to be the dominant, though not exclusive, feature of the Abrahamic covenant. He finds the consummation of the covenant in Christ and participation in the covenant to be predicated on relationship to Christ. Though, admittedly,  I argue from silence here, the “material” nature of the promises to Abraham appears to be somewhat idealized in Christ. Though not necessarily removing those “material” elements of the Abrahamic covenant, Paul’s treatment certainly places them in a new light.

Consequently, due to the advent of Christ as the seed of Abraham, the New Testament sees a semi-realized fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant in New Testament believers and the church and an ultimate eternal fulfillment in the New Heavens and Earth for all those who are “seed” of Abraham by faith.

In Christ we have our “landedness” as we are “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” (Eph. 1:3) and are assured that we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:3).

The New Testament texts that consider the question, “Who are the legitimate heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant?” unequivocally answer, “All of those who are in Christ Jesus.”

In reference to the unity of believing Jews and Gentiles, George N. H. Peters cogently concludes:

Both elect are the seed, the children of Abraham; both sets of branches are on the same stock, on the same root, on the same olive tree; both constitute the same Israel of God, the members of the same body, fellow-citizens of the same commonwealth; both are Jews “inwardly” (Romans 2:29), and of the true “circumcision” (Phil. 3:3), forming the same “peculiar people,” “holy nation,” and “royal priesthood”; both are interested in the same promises, covenants, and kingdom; both inherit and realize the same blessings at the same time (Peters 404).

In conclusion, may we all continue to “do theology” rooted in humility, exegesis, biblical theology, and community. Though I do not agree with many of Clark Pinnock’s theological conclusions, I do appreciate his delightful approach to the theological enterprise. He said,

I approach theology in a spirit of adventure, being always curious about what I may find. For me theology is like a rich feast, with many dishes to enjoy and delicacies to taste. It is like a centuries-old conversation that I am privileged to take part in, a conversation replete with innumerable voices to listen to…. More like a pilgrim than a settler, I tread the path of discovery and do my theology en route (quoted in Grenz 134).

Davis, John P – Sharper Iron

Works Cited

Davis, John P. “A Critical Examination of the Use of the Abrahamic Covenant in Dispensationalism.” Master of Theology Thesis, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990.
Grenz, Stanley J. Renewing the Center. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2000.
Peters, George N. H. The Theocratic Kingdom. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids, Kregel Publications, 1952.
Ryrie, Charles Caldwell. Dispensationalism Today. Chicago: Moody Press, 1965.

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35 comments on “My Journey Out of Dispensationalism

  1. I would say that was one journey that turned out “Good”! :) seeing there is none “good” but “One”!

  2. Regarding http://pjmiller.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/hagees-prosperity-gospel/
    We must pray for our Messianic Jewish friends. However, the modern Messianic Jewish movement was started by the heavily dispensational Southern Baptist Church, and one of their major “hooks” is dispensationalism because it allows them to add Jesus Christ to their existing beliefs and mindsets while liberating them from some of the more extreme nonsense such as eruvs and not being able to mail a letter, write a check, punch an elevator button or carry a credit card on Sabbath (do an Internet search on the term “shabbos goy”). Now of course, Jesus Christ fulfilled Old Testament Judaism and was a Jew, as was Paul and the apostles, so it is appropriate to add Jesus Christ to Sinai Judaism and transform it. But what dispensationalism is doing is adding Jesus Christ to Pharisee Judaism that began with the destruction of the second temple (during the time of Christ the Sadduccees were a bigger problem than the Pharisees) and thereby transforming Christianity.

    Here is an example: an article on a website written by “Messianic” Jews that teach at Oral Roberts University. These folks take the position that the Bible stopped at the Old Testament, and that the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Testament should be regarded as post-Biblical tradition with the same authority as the teachings of rabbis. As a matter of fact, they claim that when the teachings of the New Testament – including Jesus Christ – conflicts with the teachings of rabbis, that we should assume the New Testament to be in error, and that we should go by the teachings of the rabbis! Again, these people are on the faculty of Oral Roberts University! This fellow attacks the writings of a prominent New Testament scholar because George Eldon Ladd chose to – gasp! – rely primarily on the New Testament as opposed to rabbinical writings. Imagine the HORROR of a Christian putting more stock in the New Testament than rabbinical traditions!

    http://www.hakesher.org/Frankovic9.htm

    The issue is not “replacement theology” as such. That really is a red herring. It is also problematic when you consider that the original “replacement theologians” were Origenists and Eusebianists who made that claim in order to justify setting up church – states. When Christians opposed melding church with state and using the power of the state – including the sword – to coerce people to practice an external form of Christianity, the excuse was “well we are the new Israel. The old covenant was given to Israel to set up a theocracy, so the new covenant has been given to the Roman Empire to set up a theocracy.” That is why infant baptism became so prominent, to serve the same purpose under the new covenant as circumcision did under the old.

    So, instead the issue is covenants. Jewish and dispensationalists purposefully claim that the covenant made with Abraham and the covenant made with Israel on Sinai were identical, or that the covenant made with Israel on Sinai was a reaffirmation of the covenant made with Abraham. It is not true. The covenant with Abraham was unconditional, but the Mosaic covenant was conditional. Israel broke the Mosaic covenant, and it is no more. Israel lost sovereign control of the land forever (even today it is not sovereign, but a U.N. and U.S. vassal) and only a remnant returned to fulfill God’s purposes. Just as a remnant returned from Babylon so that Jesus Christ could be born, a remnant is now in Israel today to fulfill the endtimes prophecies and purposes, including Paul’s “all Israel will be saved” prophecy (which will happen after Israel sees the one that they pierced and rejected and mourn).

    Dispensationalism teaches that the old covenant was not broken by Israel, but rather that what happened to Israel at the hands of the Babylonians and Assyrians was merely a “temporary punishment.” Naturally, having rejected Jesus Christ and the new covenant, that is what Jews choose to believe (being blinded until the fulness of the Gentiles come in, again quoting Paul). So, they believe the false interpretations of the prophets (correctly interpreted by Jesus Christ and His apostles) that Israel is still at the head of all peoples and nations, and that this fact will be confirmed and Israel’s status will be justified in the millennium when all nations and people (including Gentile Christians) will serve Israel. (Some dispensationalists even claim that Gentile Christians will offer burnt animal sacrifices in the temple in the presence of Jesus Christ during the millennium.)

    But they tiptoe around or outright reject the fact that the Sinai covenant was conditional and was broken by Israel. Moses spoke of the conditional nature of the covenant, and even predicted in advance that Israel would break it. The prophets said that the covenant was broken, and proof of this was the ark of the covenant being lost, with tablets of the law, the manna and the rod that budded gone. The prophets stated that only a remnant would return for the sake of God’s Name and to fulfill God’s purposes and as a sign of God’s grace and mercy, BUT NOT FOR THE SAKE OF THE OLD COVENANT.

    Paul stated that the old covenant was a school master to prepare for the new. If that doesn’t demonstrate that the old covenant was temporary and therefore conditional, what does? These folks either claim – or do not deny – that both covenants are now in effect at the same time. Acknowledge that Israel broke the terms of Deuteronomy, and dispensationalism collapses.

    Fortunately, most dispensational Christians aren’t aware of the finer points and implications of this doctrines. Instead, they have simply added the rapture doctrines on top of everything else while leaving everything else unchanged. In that way, they are little different from Calvinists who believe in the rapture like Albert Pendarvis and John MacArthur. (Now Pendarvis is a country preacher and not a theologian, but one day I will have to read MacArthur’s systematic justification of his rapture beliefs). Others claim that the church is now doing God’s work for a time, in this dispensation, but the millennium will restore Israel to its rightful place (or that Israel is still in exile and still being punished, but with the return of Christ Israel’s punishment will end). I suppose that is not quite as bad, but it is not justified in the Bible unless you use Jewish hermeneutics to interpret the OLD TESTAMENT millennium prophecies. But people who developed, studied, and defend this doctrinal system that completely ignores Deuteronomy, the major and minor prophets, Romans, Galatians, Revelation (which barely mentions Israel or the Jews!) will have God to answer for.

    I have been perusing the Messianic Jewish sites, and many of them are increasingly choosing the “Jewish” over the “Messianic”, and this is the inevitable result of premillennial dispensationalism not containing anything that forces them to choose one side over the other soon after their conversion. It allows them to straddle the fence, giving them plenty of opportunities to lapse back into Judaism. Speaking of which, premillennial dispensationals don’t much like the book of Hebrews either!

    • Here is an example: an article on a website written by “Messianic” Jews that teach at Oral Roberts University.

      These folks take the position that the Bible stopped at the Old Testament, and that the teachings of Jesus Christ and His apostles in the New Testament should be regarded as post-Biblical tradition with the same authority as the teachings of rabbis. As a matter of fact, they claim that when the teachings of the New Testament – including Jesus Christ – conflicts with the teachings of rabbis, that we should assume the New Testament to be in error, and that we should go by the teachings of the rabbis!

      Again, these people are on the faculty of Oral Roberts University!

      That’s plain heresy Job!

      Do you have any links you can pass on concerning this too? I have to read up on this!

      In recent years i’ve seen strong evidence of the hebrew roots movement infiltrating, what once were, strong bible believing churches, but i didn’t know it had gone this far.

    • Job,

      I am a pastor/leader in the Assemblies of God and have great interest in the Judeo-Christian syncretism that is evidenced in so many ways–in politics, in Messianic Judaism, in Freemasonry, etc., etc. In fact, it is Americanism, dating from the Puritans, is it not?

      I don’t doubt that what you allege is true, but it is extremely troubling, virtually as troubling as Hagee. In the article to which you link, there is little more than the final sentence that smacks of Christian heresy. How can I verify the ORU links you allege (now that the AOG is tied into ORU)? How can I get more information? Is there a way to contact you on this? I would like to alert others to this, but I need more information first.

    • Job, you said: “Jewish and dispensationalists purposefully claim that the covenant made with Abraham and the covenant made with Israel on Sinai were identical, or that the covenant made with Israel on Sinai was a reaffirmation of the covenant made with Abraham.” Are you kidding me?!? Where in the world are you getting your information? Dispensationalists most definitely teach that the Abrahamic Covenant was eternal and unconditional, whereas the Mosaic Covenant was temporal and conditional and made obsolete with Christ. If anything, I have found that it is the Covenant theologians who seem to blur the line between the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants, since they tend to want to hold onto some of the laws in the Mosaic Covenant (i.e. Sabbath keeping).

  3. [...] Posted by Job on July 29, 2009 HT PJ Miller. [...]

  4. thanks, Job, well said.
    everything is being blurred on purpose, because christians who do not see what the Bible means with “Israel “, “Efraim “, “Jacob “, will remain deluded and therefore powerless.
    Interesting part is Ezekiel 37, the” two sticks, put together “, so, the remnant of real jews and serious christians together. Compare that with Isaiah 43,
    “you are My witnesses, declares the Lord ”
    – who ?
    “the house Judah and the house Israel ” (vs 1)
    When you ( = these two witnesses ) go through the fire, it won t harm you ” ( vs 2 )

    now doesn t that sound awfully similar as Revelation 11..?

    The whole dispenthing ( cant even pronounce it ) is one big smokescreen of his royal badness; invented in the 1500 s by jesuits, and made suitable for massdeception thru Darby/Scofield, mid 1800s, interestingly the same time Zionism rared it s ugly head
    ..looks like an agenda here..

    I have no assumption whatsoever that it has sense to explain these false theologies to christians, no more. Impossible. The one-dimensional false soundbites did their work well. The only thing what could do it, is a (final) Revelation from the Lord Himself, for christians to see through this massive deception..

  5. quoted from the link you provided:

    I, however, prefer treating the original context of Jesus’ words as being post-biblical Judaism; therefore, when I encounter dissonance between Jesus’ views on fundamental Jewish concepts and their expression in the literature of the rabbis, I am willing to explore the possibility that the evangelists, or those who contributed to the formation of the synoptic tradition before them, were more responsible than Jesus for the dissonance.

  6. Consequently, due to the advent of Christ as the seed of Abraham, the New Testament sees a semi-realized fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant in New Testament believers and the church and an ultimate eternal fulfillment in the New Heavens and Earth for all those who are “seed” of Abraham by faith.

    In Christ we have our “landedness” as we are “blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” (Eph. 1:3) and are assured that we have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade kept in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:3).

    The New Testament texts that consider the question, “Who are the legitimate heirs of the Abrahamic Covenant?” unequivocally answer, “All of those who are in Christ Jesus.”

    Hallelujah! :-)

    Was reading this again and those statements just filled me with joy!

    (i know, im goofy)

  7. I made a mistake, only one of the people involved with this site is on ORU’s faculty. To those who asked for the links to verify my claims, go to the main link

    http://www.hakesher.org/

    Here is something from the “about” page:

    http://www.hakesher.org/about.htm

    “Lenore Mullican
    Lenore was reared in Israel, daughter of former Jerusalem pastor, the late Dr. Robert L. and Margaret Lindsey. She holds a BS in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma, an MA in Biblical Literature and an MA in Advanced Biblical Languages, both from Oral Roberts University. She teaches Modern Hebrew at Oral Roberts University as Assistant Professor of Modern Languages.”

    Here are their other articles for your perusal:

    http://www.hakesher.org/teachers.htm

    • Job, I’m not quite so sure that you are mistaken. Brad Young is a graduate school instructor at ORU and is a founding member of the “Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research.”

      I don’t know how much his work overlaps with Lenore Mullican. One wonders if he is a mentor of hers, or whether Young was a seminal influence on Joseph Frankovic when he was at ORU in the late 80s; M.A. ’90.

      What Young does may be benign and orthodox, although provocative. Here is a webpage with some of his articles: http://www.jerusalemperspective.com/default.aspx?tabid=32.

      I just assumed you knew a whole lot more than I did about this. I do appreciate you alerting me that this has gone somewhat mainstream in accredited Christian education. I was totally unaware of the ORU connection.

      This is definitely something to watch. I appreciate good, scholarly study of the world in which the Bible was written, and, yes, the “Jewish roots” of our Christian faith. On the other hand, there is a line that should not be crossed, and I think some are crossing it, and encouraging others to follow under the guise of ‘loving Israel’.

      Furthermore, I think I see many of these syncretistic movements converging.

      In reality, there is very little to separate the blue collar syncretists (Judeo-Christian) and the white collar syncretists (Judeo-Islamo-Christian), it seems to me. The former is conservative, moralistic, red-state Americanism; the latter is liberal, socialistic, blue-state Americanism.

      It’s all a red/blue herring.

      Both are competing with the pure gospel, and the Antichrist will probably unite the two–hey, a syncretistic house divided against itself… (as the nonChristian Lincoln said…).

      PJ, I hope you keep your eye on this all. I think it’s huge.

      Actually, I think it’s monstrous; bigger than any other possible deception out there–ever. Seriously.

  8. This fellow attacks the writings of a prominent New Testament scholar because George Eldon Ladd chose to – gasp! – rely primarily on the New Testament as opposed to rabbinical writings. Imagine the HORROR of a Christian putting more stock in the New Testament than rabbinical traditions!

    I did a limited search on the author, Joseph Frankovic, and it came as no surprise to see many hebrew root’s websites pop up. He is quoted extensively by them as an expert authority in rabbinic teachings. He also is a member and contributor at the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerusalem_School_of_Synoptic_Research

    I seem to recall reading something about this school in the last year that really disturbed me, but like many things i come across daily, it slipped my mind so i never did any research on it.

    Anyway, i read only a handful of quotes from a list of articles/teachings by Frankovic, besides the one you linked to Job. But what i’ve read so far, is, well…very disturbing.

    as an example he opens up his teaching on, Toward An Unclouded Vision Of His Kingdom, with this:

    At the center of Jesus’ preaching and teaching stood the good news of the kingdom of heaven. According to the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus spoke more about the kingdom of heaven than of himself. If, however, we listen carefully to the content of the sermons preached week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade from our pulpits, we cannot easily escape the impression that at best we have a blurred vision of the kingdom of heaven or at worst entirely lost sight of it.

    The concern which I have raised here others have already flagged.

    For example, Krister Stendahl wrote that from the point of the post-resurrection kerygma, “it seems that the kingdom of which Jesus spoke has been swallowed up into personalized christology. The kingdom language with its powerful theological potential has somehow been neutralized and emasculated.”

    In another place Stendahl warned that “we may so preach Jesus that we lose the vision of the kingdom.”

    The idea that he and others in his rank believe we can ‘preach Jesus’ too much, and miss understanding the kingdom of God, is so wrong that words fail me.

    But, i notice this weird anti-christ (in a theological definition) leaning in most everything i have read, so far, that he has written. He appears, by his ‘words’ to lessen the vital importance of Jesus. I notice he refers to him as a ‘sage’…in the same way he does other rabbis.

    The expression, the kingdom of heaven, appears repeatedly in only two bodies of ancient Jewish texts–the New Testament and Rabbinic literature. A number of notable Jewish sages contributed to the conceptual evolution of the kingdom of heaven. Jesus who also belonged to the ranks of Israel’s finest sages made his own distinctive contribution to the concept. Examining, therefore, what these sages said about the kingdom of heaven is a helpful exercise for better understanding Jesus’ unique perspective on it. Too many Christian scholars and clerics have treated as irrelevant or neglected out of ignorance the earliest stratum of rabbinic literature. Failing to factor significant data from rabbinic texts into their research, they have arrived at conclusions which in some cases lack preciseness, but in other cases, altogether miss the mark.

    I also wanted to make a small comment about his the article disputing George Eldon Ladd…and the quote [of yours] i pulled:

    Imagine the HORROR of a Christian putting more stock in the New Testament than rabbinical traditions!

    This is happening at an alarming rate today Job. Christians putting more stock (or equal stock) in rabbinical writings, teachings, and traditions.

    I’ve been witness to this first hand, on more then enough occasions to cause me to be alarmed. And it is occurring in Christians who many time have been Christians for many years.

    To be honest, i firmly believe this turning to “all things hebrew” or rabbinical teachings is a part of the last day apostasy which is going on in the Church.

  9. Dispensational theology crumbles under the weight of honest intellectual inspection. However, it is my observation that most Christians are not willing to embrace any other eschatology simply because they are so emotionally invested into dispensationalism that they can’t afford to change. They need the comfort afforded them by dispensational doctrine, otherwise, they might have to engage the culture. As long as they believe that Jesus will rapture them out, they don’t have to do or say anything that conflicts with the world system. In fact, most Christians are willing to let the world system take over because in their mind it will hasten the return of Christ.

    This is a tragedy that will cost many lives in the future.

    • Travis, I am a historic premillenialist, who does not separate Israel out from the gospel.

      However, you sound like a Seven Mountain Dominionist/Post-Millenialist? Is that accurate?

      If so, I hate to tell you, but Post-Millers always spill more blood than Pre-Millers. Gotta crack eggs to make an omelet, no?

    • Dispensational theology crumbles under the weight of honest intellectual inspection. However, it is my observation that most Christians are not willing to embrace any other eschatology simply because they are so emotionally invested into dispensationalism that they can’t afford to change.

      Travis,

      that is a very good point.

      Its very hard to let go of beliefs when its all we’ve ever known or been taught. I came face to face with it myself, when i was first led to dig deeper into the doctrines of dispensationalism. It frightened me…you know?

      I was afraid that ‘if’ i really saw that many of their teachings and beliefs were error (which i had suspected in the back of my mind for awhile) that it would cause me to doubt or question OTHER doctrines i had built my spiritual foundation upon for over 25 yrs.

      But you know what happened? I realized i had to push on in studying–that even if it tore up some of my foundation, i had to pursue truth.

      And it did uproot part of my foundation…but since then, i’ve allowed God to rebuild it based only on truth. I know its “strong’ and sturdy now!

  10. Paul:

    “I appreciate good, scholarly study of the world in which the Bible was written, and, yes, the “Jewish roots” of our Christian faith.”

    So am I. However, the people who have done the best job of precisely that are CHRISTIANS. I admit, I myself fell for that nonsense that I was hearing on TBN, CBN, TCT, NRB etc. about how Christians have to reject anti-Semitism that covered up the true Jewish nature of the faith and how we needed to recover it, and Messianic Jews can show us the way.

    But then I did a little research. Turns out that we ignorant anti-Semitic replacement theology Gentiles have been studying Judaism and “the Jewish roots” of Christianity from the very beginning and continuously throughout history: the early apostolic church, the patristic church fathers period, the Reformation, the premodern/modernist/postmodern era, and even in the dark days of Catholicism. The best example: when he was translating the Vulgate, Jerome moved to Jerusalem so that he could investigate the oldest manuscripts in person AND spent YEARS consulting with all the rabbis and reading all the Jewish literature that he could. So Jerome knew more about actual Judaism than most of these Messianic Jews – many of whom are relying on interpretations and traditions created by eastern European Jews that developed over 1000 years after the death of Christ for their “Jewishness” did. For instance take Maimonides, the scholar whom most modern Jewish scholars swear by. The guy was born in 1135 AD.

    Look, Christian theologians and scholars have spent centuries poring over every Jewish manuscript, every scroll, every midrash, every targum, every Jewish synagogue liturgy, every Jewish historical writing etc. that they can get their hands on while working on everything from systematic theology to Bible translations. Some vital Jewish documents are only in existence today because Christians preserved them so that they could study them! We probably wouldn’t even have the writings of Josephus if the church hadn’t kept them!

    So for 2000 years Christian scholars have been studying the teachings and writings of these rabbis. For the Messianic Jewish movement to claim that our scholars have somehow gotten it wrong all this time and that we need them to come teach us so that we can interpret the scriptures properly is the height of arrogance, even a form of racism or ethnic chauvinism. Even worse: it discards the doctrine of the illumination of the Holy Spirit. They ignore that the Holy Spirit has been helping and guiding the interpretations of born again Christian theologians and scholars for centuries, and want us to throw the works of those illuminated by the Holy Spirit away to follow a bunch of anti-Christ (which is what the Johannine epistles call them) blasphemers that Paul of the tribe of Benjamin stated was blinded. We are supposed to reject the teachings of Spurgeon, Bunyan, Spener, Tyndale, Wycliffe, Huss etc. in favor of the ramblings of the Talmud and other Jewish writers who claim that Jesus Christ was the son of a prostitute and a Roman soldier, and that He is spending an eternity in boiling human unclean body effluvia? Who claim that Abraham fed the three men who visited him when they told him that Sarah would have a child a golem (a product of Jewish kabbalah witchcraft learned in Babylon) and that Israel only accepted being God’s chosen nation because all the other nations rejected Him, and therefore as a last resort God had to force Israel to accept His choosing them by holding a mountain over their heads threatening to crush them if they didn’t obey?

    You see, CHRISTIAN scholars have already studied this stuff and determined it to be nonsense. Even the stuff that has legitimate historical or ethical value doesn’t add anything vital to the Old or New Testament, and no one has to bother themselves with it unless they are on some Bible translation committee or is an Old Testament or New Testament professor at a seminary or Bible college or religion school. Jesus Christ did not die on a cross and rise on the third day so that we could master arcane details of ancient Jewish life and culture. None of that stuff can save you, none of that stuff can help you interpret the Bible better – or at least interpret the Bible better than any of the FREE commentaries available online or is bundled with VERY CHEAP Bible software, let alone a quality commentary set that you can get at any Bible bookstore for a couple hundred dollars plus a systematic theology book that you can get for 30 bucks – so why bother?

    It is all nonsense, and the worst part is that these people know that it is nonsense already. Instead, they make this “true Christianity according to its Jewish roots and all this wisdom and spiritual power has been hidden from Christians for centuries because of anti-Semitism and replacement theology, but in these last days before the return of Jesus Christ God is restoring us back to the power and knowledge of the early church” claim as part of some ruse to A) get you to financially support their ministry and B) to get you to adopt their beliefs … to get you to abandon more and more traditional Biblical Christianity and start little by little ingesting their Talmud.

    I have challenged several Messianic Jews to stop messing around with their Talmud nonsense, and mostly they won’t. Jay Sekulow’s brother (the brother of the same con artist who runs the “ACLJ” for Pat Robertson) admitted that he teaches from both the Bible and the Talmud in his Messianic Jewish congregation that he leads in Atlanta when I emailed him. I tried to debate the guy at http://derek4messiah.wordpress.com but he stopped posting my comments. This “derek4messiah” person was objecting to the idea that a Gentile Christian and a Messianic Jew could be married. He immediately went into this “we are God’s chosen people so we have to protect our bloodline and our culture and traditions” nonsense, and stated that a Messianic Jew should only marry another Messianic Jew (at least he did not go as far as to say that a Messianic Jew should marry a nonbelieving Jew) and that if this Gentile Christian wanted to marry a Messianic Jew, THE GENTILE CHRISTIAN SHOULD CONVERT TO MESSIANIC JUDAISM. That was just one, I also mentioned to this fellow that as the rabbinical writings were produced by people in blindness to and rejection of Jesus Christ, it was no more useful to any Christian than the writings of an Enlightenment scholar or of Muslim or Hindu writings, but he insisted that there was great philosophical, moral, ethical wisdom in that nonsense.

    Sorry Paul, but it is a scam designed to at best create confusion in your mind and at worst cause you to doubt and ultimately leave the faith. Scores of Christians have gotten mixed up into this Messianic Jewish movement, renounced Christianity and become Pharisee rabbinic Jews. This is because the Messianic Jewish movement ENCOURAGES Christians to read rabbinic literature which rails against Jesus Christ, the apostles, the New Testament and the church constantly and makes very clever – and often very dishonest – arguments in doing so, and after reading that stuff over and over again doubts creep up, and it is hard for even someone who has been an apologetics professor for 20 years to answer all of the arcane nonsense “challenges” that these people come up with. That’s the result of reading junk produced by people doing their best to deny Christ while looking for truth. Seriously, look at the New Testament epistles. Paul and Peter didn’t include these details about Jewish history and culture or their theological and ethical speculations in his letters to the Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians etc. No, they only talked about Jesus Christ. So if the Jewish apostles figured that their pagan Gentile audiences didn’t need any of that nonsense to be good Christians in their day – and more important if the Holy Spirit that inspired them decided that this information was at best extraneous – then why do we need that information today? The Colossians didn’t need to study the teachings of rabbis in order to properly interpret Paul’s letter to them, so why do we?

    Again, it is all a scam, a trick designed to get you to spend your money on their ministries (rather than giving it to the poor or supporting legitimate ministries, including missionaries and evangelism) and also to turn aside from the faith, or at least away from a solid balanced version of the faith to one confused with fables and myths.

    So to this nonsense remember these words:

    1 Timothy 1:4
    Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do.

    1 Timothy 4:7
    But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.

    2 Timothy 4:3-4
    For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

    I saved the best for last.

    Titus 1:14
    Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.

    2 Peter 1:16
    For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

    And please recall that Peter and Paul, who wrote those verses, were present at the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 which dealt with the Judaizer threat. That really what this is. It is that instead of claiming that Christians need to follow the law (then again actually not a few Messianic Jews ARE making that claim, that Jews who believe in Jesus should keep following the law, and that Gentiles would do well to do so also!) they are claiming that Christians need to follow their interpretations and teachings. Well, following Jewish teachings inevitably lead to doing Jewish works. Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy, and false teachings leads to evil works. We know this because the New Testament says so. (Meanwhile, Judaism has never even had a concept of orthodoxy, even after the Pharisees were the only party left after the Jewish war.)

    • Thank you so much, Job.

    • Reading this today reminds me of “my theory” about “Philip”, that “he” was one of the two disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus:::>

      “Luk 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
      Luk 24:14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
      Luk 24:15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
      Luk 24:16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. …>

      <….Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. …"

      Think about it, the only "Bible" these ones, Jesus and Philip had to refer too was the collection of sacred writings all Jewish Rabbis had to work from in preaching and teaching about the Gospel of the Kingdom!

      What's that old saw? "The New Testament is contained in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament".

  11. PJ, I posted this to Job’s responses but I don’t see it. If it is hiding, maybe you can cut one of the response so as not to duplicate the post?

    Job, after reading your response, I am reminded of “my theory” of who one of the two disciples are who Jesus came up to when they were walking to Emmaus.

    I believe besides Cleopas, Philip could have been the other disciple.

    Here’s why:

    “….Luk 24:13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem,
    Luk 24:14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened.
    Luk 24:15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
    Luk 24:16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.

    “….Luk 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
    Luk 24:26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?”
    Luk 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

    “….and

    “….Act 8:35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus….”.

    The only Sacred writings Jesus and Philip had to work from when teaching and preaching the Gospel was the same writings, excluding those you referenced in your responses above, all the rabbis had too.

    We see Philip picked up on Jesus’ methodology quickly enough. I might add, when you take away the writers of the New Testament’s words, you are left with a great bit of quotes from those same Sacred writings!

    What’s the old saw? “The New Testament is contained in the Old Testament. And the Old Testament is explained in the New Testament”.

    • PJ, I posted this to Job’s responses but I don’t see it. If it is hiding, maybe you can cut one of the response so as not to duplicate the post?

      Michael i looked, it ended up in my spam folder. LOL

  12. Can someone explain why the 144,000 that are sealed in Revelation are from the tribes of Israel, but the gentiles are not mentioned. Why won’t God seal gentiles too? I don’t understand. Are the believing gentiles already sealed or something?

  13. I also don’t understand why the gates of the New Jerusalem in Revelation 21 has the names of the 12 tribes of Israel on them. Like it is in honor of them, or given to them or something. I’m really confused now. Someone please explain this to me. I just don’t know what to think. Please help!

    • Hi Mel,

      the names of the twelve tribes on the gates, are representative of the ‘church’ — the old testament church which was natural Israel, and the church under the new covenant, which is spiritual Israel. The latter being made up of all those in Christ.

      It gives a ‘picture’ of the continuity of the family of God, beginning with Abraham to Moses [and the church in the wilderness] to Christ and the new covenant church, (which is why it will include 12 foundations with the names of the 12 apostles inscribed on each one..)

      In other words, the gates denote entrance…which means only the “church”–God’s elect, shall enter the heavenly city, New Jerusalem. God’s elect are made up of both those from the old testament (covenant) church and the new testament (covenant) church…

      Hope that helps :-)

      If not this is a very good link to a number of fine commentaries on revelation 21:12

      (even a sermon by Spurgeon! LOL)

      http://www.ccel.org/wwsb/Revelation/21/12.html

  14. Ok. Thanks for the links. So this understanding has to do with whether you spiritualize the Bible or take it literally? Forgive me, I have been trying to find specific verses where God specifically says that Israel and the tribes really just mean all believers and I just can’t find them. I find Jew, Israel (I assume that means Jacob or the nation of), Gentile…and that there is no difference between the Jew or gentile once they take Christ as the Messiah…and it happens over and over and so do I just insert the word church for Israel…and is doing that presuming that God didn’t say what He meant or no. Again, forgive me for not understanding. I’m not trained in this field. There is so much commentary out there, but I would prefer just to read the Holy Scriptures for what they say and understand them as they are supposed to be understood…that’s all.

  15. So this understanding has to do with whether you spiritualize the Bible or take it literally?…I would prefer just to read the Holy Scriptures for what they say…

    It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”[b] 8In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring. Romans 9

    28A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Romans 2

    9I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not.. Revelation 2

    9Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; Revelation 3
    (there is more to being considered “Israel” or a Jew than just being born an Israelite or a natural ( of the flesh) child of Abraham)

    28 Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. Galatians 4 29And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3 (Paul to the Galatian church)

    36So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.[c]”

    39″Abraham is our father,” they answered.

    “If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would[d] do the things Abraham did. 40As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41You are doing the things your own father does.” “We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

    42Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” John 8

  16. I read some of the articles in the link. Again. Thank you very much. I think the thing that I am confused about is the idea that God is not going to fulfill his promises. I like Spurgeon and I found an article about what he believed. I was so blessed, thank you again. He thought the way I do about this whole thing. Please be patient with my comment. I saw that some of the others were very long, so hopefully, this one should fit as well. Thank you again!

    http://www.spurgeon.org/misc/eschat2.htm

    In the OT, it was clear that God choose Israel and made them a nation unto himself. Yes, they had to follow the OT law before Messiah came, but just because they followed the law and religion did not mean they were of God. They had to live by faith in the hope of their kinsman redeemer, that they would be with the Father because He alone allowed it, not that they were good enough on their own to work their way there. They had to hate their flesh. In short, anyone who was saved, was saved by grace through faith, just as they are now. The Messiah came through the Line of David, and the Israelites rejected Him. So the gospel was taken to the gentiles and they were and are grafted into the olive tree. Through this, the Jews are made jealous in order to bring the people back to the God…all of us who accept Messiah are the church, whether Jew or Gentile whether it was in ancient times before Messiah went to the cross or after. However, God made certain covenants with Israel that are yet to be fulfilled. God will replace the heart of stone with a heart of flesh! Oh what a joyful day that will be. He does not break His promises…however, both the spiritual Israelites (those not Israelite by blood) and the Israelites (those who are true Jews, saved by grace through faith) will inherit those promises as one body in Jesus the Messiah. I think the term dispensationalist takes on many faces…just as the word christian does…and it may be that all we need to see is that Israel was indeed a nation chosen by God to bring promises to all of His children (whether Jew or gentile, female, male, slave, free)…whether literal seed of Abraham or spiritual seed. There will be a literal restoration and a literal reign of a literal king and a literal 144,000 sealed from the tribes of Israel in the end days. That 144,000 will be used to bring others to the knowledge of Messiah…they are not gentiles, they are Israelites from the 12 tribes.

    Romans 11

    1I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.

    2God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying,

    3Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life.

    4But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.

    5Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace…

    7What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded.

    8(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.

    9And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:

    10Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

    11I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.

    12Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

    13For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

    14If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.

    15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?

    16For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.

    17And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;

    18Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

    19Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.

    20Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:

    21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.

    22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

    23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.

    24For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?

    25For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.

    26And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

    27For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.

    28As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.

    29For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.

    30For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief:

    31Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.

    32For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

  17. Oh yeah, and Mel, I think the 144,000 are sealed because they are from the tribes of Israel and are going to spread the good news during those times. The saved gentiles and Jews won’t need to be sealed because either they won’t be here, or they already are sealed because they know Christ and don’t need to be sealed again, since we are already sealed with the spirit of promise. I hope maybe that helps with your question.

  18. Mel,

    Like many things; wording, timing, symbolism, literalism, etc concerning prophecy, you’re going to find different interpretations from many fine dedicated bible scholars/teachers down through the years. Personally, I lean more toward reading from the writings of past teachers etc more then the more modern prophecy teachers, only because their views were held [believed] and followed by the church for hundreds of years…many from the time of the early days of the church.

    Kit presents one of the 4 most prevalent theological views, [thanks Kit]–

    “..There will be a literal restoration and a literal reign of a literal king and a literal 144,000 sealed from the tribes of Israel in the end days. That 144,000 will be used to bring others to the knowledge of Messiah…”

    In the book, Revelation Four Views–a Parallel Commentary [which by the way is the BEST parallel commentary around today] the author presents a side by side presentation of all 4 theological views.

    I’ll post a little from all 4 below, but understand that one’s interpretation of Revelation is first based on if you believe all of it is yet to be fulfilled, [futurist] or if some of it has been fulfilled with other parts are yet to be so, etc.

    Historicist:

    Elliot and Barnes see the 144,000 as symbolic of the entire church, the Israel of God. The number being synonymous with those who are saved, or chosen.

    This is based on two principles.

    One, John doesn’t see the 12 Tribes, its only announced, but what he does see is recorded afterward,

    After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

    Two, the listing of the 12 Tribes, does not match any of the traditional listings of the Tribes previously; Gen 35:23-26; 49:1-28; Deut 33:6-25. Instead in this list, Judah is first;, being the Tribe from which Jesus came through.

    Futurist

    I won’t type out but a line or 2 on this view for Kit covered it pretty well, and I’m a slow (2 finger type-er), so it will save time. Ahahah…

    Basically futurists hold to the view that after the rapture of the church, 144,000 Jews, 12,000 from each tribe, will preach the gospel of Christ during what they believe to be a future 7 year tribulation, after being sealed and preserved.

    Preterist

    Their view is this designates the remnant of Jewish believers which made up the early church which escaped the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. 144,000. They base this on another passage [verse 4] in which they are referred to as “first fruits”:

    “These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb.”

    Quote..

    Since the church age has been one long harvest of souls, the first fruits must have come in at the beginning of this time [compare James 1:1 and 18] which speaks of the Jewish believers as ‘first fruits’. IF this 144,000 referred to some future group living in the end times, one would expect them to be called ‘last fruits’

    Spiritual

    This view sees the number as representing the true church–true and spiritual Israel.

    Reasons for not understanding this vision to apply to ethnic Israel:

    1- such a view imposes a canon of literalism upon a passage belonging to a very symbolic book [Revelation]
    2- the book of Revelation does not elsewhere draw distinctions between Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians.
    3- the sealing of this group, contrasted with the multi-racial multitudes in verses 9-17 [who are not sealed] would suggest that only Jewish Christians are sealed and not other Christians, are sealed by God for protection.

    Also,

    Quote..

    That ethnic Israel is not in view is confirmed by the irregular listing of the tribes. Judah is placed first as the Messiah’s own tribe, Dan is omitted, Levi is included as an ordinary tribe, and Joseph replaces Ephraim.

    As you can see Mel, there are some similar and some differences in the beliefs concerning the 144,000. Much of how any believer chooses to interpret prophecy is dependent on other of their beliefs” like the rapture (timing,) etc etc etc…Its also dependent on one’s beliefs concerning the church, etc.

    The best thing I could recommend, is to lay aside all previous teachings and study scriptures ‘anew’ with fresh eyes. Depend upon the Holy Spirit for understanding.

    When I left off holding to dispensationalist teachings, that is what I did.

  19. Ok. Thank you. I’ll read that Spurgeon article. He was always a little different from those arounds him. I think Dan was cut of because of this below and he kind of reminds me of Judas. Maybe he was a picture of the one who would betray the Messiah.

    Genesis 49

    16Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

    17Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

  20. Since my name was brought up on here, I would encourage anyone to check out my blog before deciding that all Messianic Jews are legalists, Judaizers, and theological imbeciles.

    Messianic Judaism, in the stream I belong to, is totally positive about Christianity and shares in common all the vital Christian doctrines.

    Derek Leman
    derekleman dot com

  21. I can’t see anywhere where it has been implied that Messianic Jews are any of the three things you mention. However there has justifiably been discussion of a “line that cannot be crossed”.

  22. Jan:

    You say you cannot see anywhere people have made any such claims about Messianic Jews. Maybe you were just reading in a hurry. This is what is said above:

    “….And please recall that Peter and Paul, who wrote those verses, were present at the Jerusalem council of Acts 15 which dealt with the Judaizer threat. That really what this is. It is that instead of claiming that Christians need to follow the law (then again actually not a few Messianic Jews ARE making that claim, that Jews who believe in Jesus should keep following the law, and that Gentiles would do well to do so also!) they are claiming that Christians need to follow their interpretations and teachings. Well, following Jewish teachings inevitably lead to doing Jewish works. Orthodoxy leads to orthopraxy, and false teachings leads to evil works…..”

    Derek

  23. Job, you said: “Jewish and dispensationalists purposefully claim that the covenant made with Abraham and the covenant made with Israel on Sinai were identical, or that the covenant made with Israel on Sinai was a reaffirmation of the covenant made with Abraham.” Are you kidding me?!? Where in the world are you getting your information?

    Sara, i am not answering for Job but only wanted to support his claim. Yes, most dispensationalists do believe they are either identical or the covenant at Sinai was a reaffirmation of the Abrahamic covenant. Job, if i recall correctly, (like myself) was once a long-time follower of dispensational theology. In my case, it was all i heard preached in every church i attended, for over 20 years.

    While you may be one who does not follow the more common teachings related to the topic of the two covenants, within dispensationalism, you are in the minority.

    Allow me to give you the link to Job’s blog….im sure he’d be more then happy to explain his comment further;

    Jesus Christ Is Lord

    (You’ll also find many excellent articles written by Job on the topic at his blog)

  24. Thanks PJ. I’m experiencing my own exodus from that camp. The old CI Scofield bible combined with parents who were not bible readers began the journey down this road for me. Now … 30 years! later … the Gap Theory in Daniel 9 just couldn’t be swallowed any longer.

    Your comments re the Abrahamic Covenant were spot on and of great help. The largest hurdle to overcome with my brothers will most likely be about the Pauline Mysteries. “Prophecy is for Israel, Mysteries are for the Church” type of thinking.

    LBWY

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