Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The War Against the Bible

We have always had wars and confrontations over the Bible, the Word of God. Through the centuries they have been about (1) heretical teachings, (2) misinterpretation, (3) the nature of the church, (4) outright liberalism and the denial of the inspiration of Scripture, (5) and the very nature of its message. The last issue (5) is now taking prominence. Presently, the war is over the basic messages (or message) of the Bible, Bible prophecy, and what God has said about the nation of Israel.

If we are moving into the end times, and if, as Revelation 12 indicates, Satan’s final attack will be against the restored Jewish people, confusion about the overall scriptural message will only be intensified.

For this discussion I will confine the issues to three modes of thinking about how the Word of God is constructed and interpreted: (1) Covenant theology and amillennialism, (2) biblical dispensationalism, and (3) progressive or revisionist dispensationalism. I will then focus on answering progressive dispensationalism (PD) by showing what the Bible teaches in opposition to their views.

Covenant Theology and Amillennialism Many chapters in many of my books have dealt with the failure of Covenant theology to represent the structure and the flow of the Bible. So, little discussion space will be given here on the subject, except to say: Covenant theology, built on amillennialism and allegorical interpretation, will not hold up under honest scrutiny. Even the Covenant guys admit that their Covenants of Works and Grace are only implied and are not explicit in the Bible. In other words this is a man-made system imposed on Scripture and does not represent the message of the Word of God.

Here is what the leading Covenant thinkers say about their own system as quoted in my Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Kregel), [pp. 158-59]:

It must be admitted that the term "covenant" is not found in the first three chapters of Genesis. … But this is not an insuperable objection. … They who deny the covenant of works generally base their denial in part on the fact that there is no record of such a promise in the Bible. And it is perfectly true that Scripture contains no explicit promise of eternal life to Adam. – Louis Berkhof
The Scriptural character of the name (covenant of redemption/grace) cannot be maintained, but this, of course, does not detract from the reality of the counsel of peace. – Louis Berkhof
Concerning the covenant of works
"this [idea] does not rest upon any express declaration of the Scriptures. … Although the word covenant [as in works] is not used in Genesis, and does not elsewhere, in any clear passage, occur in reference to the transaction there recorded. … It is plain that the Bible does represent the arrangements made with Adam as a truly federal transaction." (italics mine) – Charles Hodge
But even more, the Covenant theologians have a war among themselves about the covenant of works, whether it is still around or not. Berkhof says "Covenant theologians argue as to whether this covenant has been revoked and annulled or not."
It is enough to say here that Covenant theology is lacking of firm evidence as to its biblical validity. It is a man-made system built on thin ice! James Orr rightly criticizes this false "biblical" system and writes:
Covenant theology failed to seize the true idea of development, and by an artificial system of ... allegorizing interpretation; sought to read back practically the whole of the New Testament into the Old. But its most obvious defect was that, in using the idea of the Covenant as an exhaustive category, and attempting to force into it the whole material of theology, it created an artificial scheme which could only repel minds of simple and natural notions. It is impossible, e.g., to justify by Scriptural proof the detailed elaboration of the idea of a covenant of works in Eden, with its parties, conditions, promises, threatenings, sacraments, etc. (Couch, p. 157)
Biblical Dispensationalism
Dispensationalism is not a manmade system imposed upon the Scriptures. The Bible IS dispensational! It is easy to see how in His providence God deals with His history in different ways. Dispensation is the Greek word oikonomia which means house-law, or economy. The key verses dealing with this subject are found in: 1 Cor. 9:17; Eph. 1:10; 3:2; Col. 1:25. The Bible focuses on the two largest of the dispensational periods, the period of the Mosaic Covenant and the period of the New Covenant, or the period of the church age.

What is an easy way to describe dispensationalism? Everyone runs their house with their own economy, i.e. they do things differently in their house. You do not put the kitchen utensils in the garage; you do not store the ironing board in the living room. Everything has its place. Since all history is God’s history, He does things differently through different periods in the unfolding of the historical plan.

It escapes me why some have such a problem understanding what is so obvious in the Word of God. The Pre-Fall period is not the same as the Mosaic Law period, and the Mosaic Law period is not the same as the church age. The millennial kingdom, with Christ reigning from Jerusalem in an autocratic system of kingly rule, is not the same as the church age!

Dr. John F. Walvoord used to say, if you did not take a sacrifice to Jerusalem last year, you were a dispensationalist! You understand the difference between the Law and the Church dispensations!

One of the unfounded criticisms against dispensationalism has been that the walls were like concrete between the various dispensations, i.e. there is little flow between one dispensation to another. But this is a misunderstanding and a straw man often used to discredit what the Bible is clearly teaching. Most dispensationalists are not wooden-headed about this issue. For example
  1. The nature of sin is the same in all of human history, from one dispensation to another people are the same spiritually and morally.
  2. The nature of God is the same from one to another, though through the ages God may reveal progressively more about Himself as the Bible unfolds.
  3. In all dispensations salvation is always by faith and trust in what God says, though He did not fully reveal the "mechanics" of salvation as they would unfold when Christ died on the cross.
  4. In all dispensations all who believe in what God reveals are ultimately saved by the sacrifice of Christ. God applied back that sacrifice on those who have faith but were living in Old Testament times. And He applied forward the work of Christ on the cross on future believers.
  5. The hope of all saints in all dispensations has been the resurrection from the dead. In the Old Testament we have the expression about the patriarchs that they "slept with their fathers." And from the Gospel of John (that was still in the dispensation of the Mosaic Law), Martha told the Lord in reference to the death of Lazarus, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day" (John 11:24). This indicates that those living under the Law economy understood clearly the dynamics and the promises of the resurrection.
But because God works differently during different periods, or dispensations, some anti-dispensations want to draw swords and go to war! They fail to take note of the obvious! But no matter, they cannot challenge what the Bible teaches about the following issues:
  1. There is progressive revelation in Scripture, i.e. God does not reveal everything at once in His Word. He "progressively" added new revelation or revealed more about Himself, about His world plan for the future, and about the nature of salvation through Christ. This is an important fact for dispensationalism.
  2. The church is not Israel and Israel is not the church. These are two distinct entities in the Lord’s outworking in history. It does not take much to prove this point. The organization of the church, and Israel, are so distinct. And certain promises were made to the one that are not given to the other.

  3. While there are certain things that are common in all dispensations, for all who trust God, the Bible never tells us there is but one people of God. God dealt in a very unique way with Israel in the Old Testament. All Gentiles then who trusted in God had to come under the directive of the Law and of the requirements of the sacrificial system. They had to also be circumcised. When Israel’s kingdom is restored, the Lord will be the sovereign over the Jewish people in a different way in which He now works in the church age. It is true however that now, in the church dispensation, there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Both stand together in the spiritual body of Christ. But the church age will end with the rapture, and following the seven year tribulation, the dispensation of the kingdom will follow that will be distinct from the church age.
  4. God’s dealing with Israel, and the establishment of the Davidic millennial kingdom, has been postponed. The Bible will say this flat out! Meanwhile, the Lord is reaching the entire world, saving both Jews and Gentiles, and placing them into the spiritual body of Christ. The promised messianic kingdom will then be established following the seven year tribulation. Christ presented the kingdom to the Jewish people when He was on earth; they rejected His offer and turned against Him as king and had Him crucified. But we await the promise of that kingdom to be established on earth in Jerusalem. God has not abrogated nor annulled those promises.

  5. The kingdom dispensation is different from the church dispensation. And while church saints will enjoy Christ’s earthly rule of peace, the key people will be the Jews. Christ will reign as a benevolent Despot, and that reign is certainly nothing like the present church age.
  6. The church is called a mystery, i.e. it was something not before revealed in the Old Testament. It is foolish for the PDs to argue that the church was revealed in the Old Testament but just not recognized. If this was so, where is it revealed in the Old Testament books?
  7. Concerning the Covenant theologians and allegorists, they do not take future Bible prophecy in its normal and literal sense. They "spiritualize," allegorize, and re-define prophecy. By this, they can get rid of the doctrines of the rapture of the church, the literal seven year tribulation, and the actual historic kingdom reign of Christ over Israel and the world! While there can be figures of speech, illustrations, parables, symbols, and hyperbole in prophecy, at its base prophecy is to be taken in a normal, literal, and historic sense. For example, when the Old Testament speaks of the church, we should not interpret that as Israel, or when it refers to Jerusalem, we cannot say that means the church!
Dispensational hermeneutics is just plain old sound and solid hermeneutics. If one uses all the guidelines of proper hermeneutics one will become a dispensationalist! Dispensationalism rests on tried and true literal, grammatical-historical study. Taking the Greek text at face value then leads one to dispensationalism! I write in my Classical Evangelical Hermeneutcis:
Dispensational theology, or dispensationalism, results from a natural, normal reading of Scripture, consistently taken in context and at face value. Such a reading is the logical and obvious way to read any body of literature. ... A normal reading of Scripture is synonymous with a consistent literal, grammatico-historic hermeneutic. When a literal hermeneutic is applied to the interpretation of Scripture, every word written in Scripture is given the normal meaning it would have in its normal usage. Proponents of a consistent, literal reading of Scripture prefer the phrase a normal reading of Scripture to establish the difference between literalism and letterism. (p. 33)
Conclusion. What is written above only makes common sense. There is nothing mysterious about taking the Bible at face value. There has to be a satanic agenda that desires to remove light from the Word of God and throw it into obscurity and darkness. It appears sometimes that the opposition to the points listed above work hard at bringing confusion to a book that was written in such clarity. 

Progressive Dispensationalism
Progressive Dispensationalism (PD) began at Dallas Seminary under the influence of (at that time) some of the younger faculty, Drs. Craig Blaising and Darrell Bock. At first the "system" seemed innocent enough, but upon a second glance, it was realized that there were terrible flaws in what was being propounded. In a Christian magazine it was stated (paraphrased) by the authors that classical dispensationalism was too restrictive, but as well, some things in the classical system needed to be changed so that the criticisms would not be so acute. 

In time, most of the "older" faculty and many of the graduates began to point out the errors of PD, but it was too late. The lay board of the seminary voted to accept both PD and classical dispensation. Both views could be taught in the classrooms. 

What does PD teach?
In some ways, this may be a little hard to grasp. Even Dr. John Walvoord with a chuckle told a public audience he had trouble discerning what its position was in regard to certain prophetic issues! In comparing the two systems Bock said that PD is "less land centered" and less "future centered."1 Charles Ryrie quotes many Covenant theologians who have rejoiced over the coming of PD. They consider it a compromising position with Covenant theology and a slow melting away of dispensationalism from the theological scene.2

Poythress concluded, Ryrie noted, about PD that "provided we are able to treat the question of Israel’s relative distinctiveness in the Millennium as a minor problem, no substantial areas of disagreement [between progressive dispensationalism and covenant theology] remain." Covenant theologians Van Gemeren pointed out that "Bock agrees with covenant theology that the eschatological kingdom was inaugurated in the ministry of Jesus." Elwell adds, that PD "will be warmly received by nondispensationalists" and concludes that "the newer dispensationalism looks so much like nondispensationalist premillennialism that one struggles to see any real difference." Poythress predicts that PD "is inherently unstable. 

I do not think that they will find it possible in the long run to create a safe haven theologically between classic dispensationalism and covenant premillennialism. The forces that their own observations have set in motion will most likely lead to covenantal premillennialism …" 

[To get a more specific and detailed handle on what PD teaches, I suggest the following books: (1) Dictionary of Premillennial Theology, Mal Couch, gen. ed., (Kregel), (2) Issues in Dispensationalism, Wesley Willis and John Masters, gen. eds. (Moody), (3) Dispensationalism, Charles Ryrie (Moody), (4) Evangelical Hermeneutics, Robert Thomas (Kregel).]
Specific Issues in the PD System. 

While other propositions of the PD system could be mentioned, for this article I will confine my theological answers to the following: (1) The PDs say God’s throne in heaven is the Davidic kingly throne, (2) Christ’s Melchizedekian priesthood is tied to and related to the Davidic covenant, (3) The church fulfills the prophecy of the coming of the New covenant as referred to in Acts 2 and Joel 2, (4) Christ the Seed does His work through messianic prerogatives that involve His mediating deliverance to God’s people (by the Davidic covenant), (5) The blessings today include the "law of God written on the heart through the Spirit of God in us and [gives] the provision of forgiveness of sins (by the New covenant)," (6) God has the right to expand the beneficiaries [of the covenants] as He wishes (as He does through Christ), (7) While there are distinctions between Israel and the church, there is still the "oneness of God’s people." (8) And they add, as a mystery the church was in the Old Testament, concealed, and not to be revealed until the New Testament period. [Much of this wording comes from a blog posted by Darrell Bock on June 28, 2006.]

God’s throne in heaven is the Davidic throne.
The PDs teach that God’s throne in heaven is the Davidic kingly throne. Psalm 110:1-2 is one of the most referred to Old Testament passages quoted in the New Testament. And this is the passage they use for support. But what does it say? Christ is now seated in heaven at the right hand of God the Father (v. 1). He is waiting until the Father makes His enemies "a footstool for [the Messiah’s feet]" (v. 2), i.e. until the earthly enemies are finally defeated in the tribulation. Interestingly, verse 2 seems to clearly indicate that the kingdom reign does not begin until Christ returns to earth and "stretches forth His strong scepter from ZION (not heaven)," with God the Father saying then "Rule in the midst of Your enemies."
The PDs seem to want Christ on His messianic throne now so the church can be included presently in some way in the kingdom! But this is not what the Bible says. In fact, some PDs have changed their minds on this issue because of Revelation 3:21 that clearly separates the Father’s throne from the Davidic throne. Christ says "He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." Also, Matthew 25:31 makes a separation from the Father’s heavenly throne and what takes place when Christ returns to rule. He will come from His Father’s throne in heaven, "come in His glory, … then HE WILL SIT ON HIS GLORIOUS THRONE" on the earth! This begins the Davidic earthly reign!

Thus, the throne in heaven is not the Davidic throne that will be set up in Jerusalem!

Christ’s Melchizedekian priesthood is related to and tied to the Davidic covenant.
By this, so the PDs argue, Christ becomes a sacrifice for sins in relationship to the Davidic covenant. They say this because it is true that Psalm 110:4 follows closely with the issue of Christ being seated presently on His Father’s throne, i.e. in their view, on the Davidic throne. And because His Melchizedekian priestly position is so closely mentioned in Psalm 110, this priestly office must be related to the Davidic covenant, the PDs argue.

While it is granted that this priestly work is mentioned in the framework of Psalm 110, what does the New Testament tell us about Christ as a priest of the order of Melchizedek? 

Christ’s Melchizedekian priesthood is related to the New covenant (the issue of salvation and blessing) and not to the Davidic covenant (the issue of His reign over the Jewish kingdom). As a priest after Melchizedek he is "the mediator of a better covenant" (than the Mosaic Law covenant). The writer of Hebrews then quotes fully the New covenant as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:31-34.
Christ then is the Savior based on His priestly office and not on His kingly, messianic office. The PDs would like to blur the distinctions of these offices. In His priestly role, not His kingly office, Christ became a sacrifice and "became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation" (5:9). 

Again, if the PDs can argue that Christ is a priest through the David covenant, they can argue that the church is now in the "already" kingdom that is on the earth.

The church fulfills the prophecy of the coming of the New covenant as referred to in Acts 2 and Joel 2.
Almost everyone admits the church begins in Acts 2, but there is a strong division as to what is happening with Peter’s quote of Joel 2:28-31, which reads in part: "And it will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophecy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions …" In the Hebrew the phrase all mankind is al cal basar which is never used in the Old Testament of the Jewish people but only of the Gentiles!

Peter begins this Joel 2 quote before the Jerusalem Pentecost crowd with "But this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: …" (Acts 2:16). At issue is the expression this is what was spoken. In Greek it is touto estin to eiramenon. Or, "this is that which has been written." This is that is indicating that what Joel prophesied has come up to the present time (Perfect Participle). 

The question on Peter’s quote comes down to three possibilities. (1) Is Peter saying that what Joel prophesied came to pass there in Acts 2 with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, in other words, the fulfillment of the giving of the New covenant with the evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit? This is the view of the allegorical amillennialists and the PDs. In other words, Acts 2 is fulfilling Joel 2. (2) Or is Peter simply using Joel 2 as an illustration of what was going on in Acts 2? (3) Another view, is Peter saying that the New covenant was started, launched, begun (but not fulfilled), with the evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, yet not with the complete fulfillment of the prophecy?

If as the PDs might say, Joel 2 is fulfilled in Acts 2, and the prophecy of the New covenant is fulfilled, then the church is fulfilling the promises made to Israel back in Joel 2. But there is a better way of looking at the issue, and the Greek text would substantiate this. And thus (3) seems to hold the better and most biblical answer.

Christ made it clear to His disciples that by His death He would ratify the New covenant. "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood" (Luke 22:20). The New covenant then was launched, begun but not fulfilled or completed in Acts 2. This seems possible when Peter said this is what was spoken. If Peter meant the New covenant was fulfilled he could have used the most common expression this was fulfilled (pleeroo) that Matthew used almost exclusively in his Gospel to indicate prophecy was indeed fulfilled! In the Gospels and Acts pleeroo was used over fifty times to indicate such fulfillment. Why did Peter not use that word here in Acts 2? Because he saw the Joel prophecy begun but not finished—started but not fulfilled. The prophecy of the New covenant will be completed when it is applied finally to Israel at the start of the Millennial kingdom. 

The church now benefits from the New covenant but does not fulfill or complete it. For the Jews, over and over in the Old Testament, the New covenant is fulfilled for them in the land. The New covenant brings forgiveness of sins, and gives to them a blessing in the Holy Land! Peter nor Paul say the church is fulfilling the New covenant, but they do say the church is benefiting by it. Paul writes that God "made us adequate as servants of the new covenant, not of the letter (of the Mosaic Law), but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life" (2 Cor. 3:6). He adds that the Mosaic Law, when given, came with sobriety and glory, but now, "how shall the ministry of the Spirit (with the New covenant) fail to even more with glory?" (v. 8). 

The PDs want to tie the church directly to Israel with this New covenant. But the apostles do not go that far. They do, however, show the church benefiting from it presently but not fulfilling it.
Christ the Seed does His messianic prerogatives that involve His mediating deliverance to God’s people (by the Davidic covenant).
While there is no doubt that it was the Messiah who died for sins, the order, and the work, of the covenants must be kept distinct, because that is what the Scriptures do! We must keep the lines straight if that is what the Scriptures do! Christ’s Messiahship has to do with His kingship. Christ’s death has to do with the completion of the New covenant so that the blessing of that covenant (salvation, forgiveness of sins, the outpouring of the Spirit) might someday come upon Israel, as a people, but now, presently, the church consisting of both Jew and Gentile, is benefited by the covenant. 

The Davidic covenant has to do with the Messiah’s rule over the Jewish nation, in the land. The New covenant, ratified by Christ’s death, presently blesses and benefits the church, but will someday be directly applied to the Jewish remnant who come into the land to enjoy the kingdom promises. The PDs want to force some of these differences, and they want to co-mingle the workings of these covenants for their own agendas!

The blessings today include the law written on the heart through the Spirit of God in us and [gives] the provision of forgiveness of sins (by the New covenant).
The above statement is from Darrell Bock. He believes now those in the church are given the law within, in the heart, because of the New covenant. But this is a promise to restored Israel and is not given to the church. To the Jews, when the New covenant is fulfilled for them as they dwell in the Land during the kingdom, God says: "I will put My law within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jer. 31:33). But "the law written on the heart" is never spoken to the church! When the Spirit comes upon Israel, and the New covenant is finally fulfilled, the Jews will again "walk in My statutes, and you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers …" (Ezek. 36:27-28). Having the law and the statutes within is never promised to the church today! Notice that it is related closely to when the Jews return and are "living in the land."

However Paul says that the church is a letter of Christ, "written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts" (2 Cor. 3:3). Paul goes on and says that "the letter [of the law] kills, but the Spirit gives life" (v. 6). The writing on the human hearts is the Spirit in this dispensation. It is not the "letter of the law, the tablets of stone" (v. 3).

The Law written on the heart is a promise from the New covenant for restored Israel living in the millennial kingdom. Paul is showing that the church today receives the benefits of the Spirit, from the New covenant, but the law is not written in our hearts, i.e. in the hearts of church saints. In other words, in the New covenant, there are things that specifically have to do with the Jews in the kingdom, and there are things addressed to the church age.
How do we know the difference? By good, solid hermeneutics and interpretation. We do not go first "theological." We practice sound OBSERVATION and from that we derive our theology!

This must be repeated: The Jews will be observing the law through the New covenant in the period of the earthly kingdom. God told Ezekiel: "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My (law) statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. AND YOU WILL LIVE IN THE LAND THAT I GAVE YOUR FOREFATHERS" (Ezek. 36:27-28). Through their conversion, and by the New covenant, the Jews in the land will keep the ordinances given to them by the Lord. The New covenant will be fulfilled then for Israel; only now the church benefits from it but does not fulfill it!

The PDs want to meld everything all together and put the church somehow now in the kingdom but sound hermeneutics will not allow their view. It is true that on a few occasions the apostles preached about the kingdom of God, this does not equate the kingdom as being the church. Paul "preached the kingdom of God" (Acts 20:25), believers are even made workers of the kingdom of God (Col. 4:11), and believers are to be "counted worthy of the kingdom of God" (2 Thess. 1:5). But none of this language implies that the millennial reign is here now, or that the church is indeed that kingdom!

Pentecost notes: "Such references undoubtedly, are related to the eternal kingdom and emphasize the believer’s part in it. They can not be made to support the theory that the church is the earthly kingdom that fulfills all the prophecies of the Word of God." (Things to Come, pp. 471-72) Does Pentecost mean "the eternal kingdom" is the same as the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God? The kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of God ALWAYS refers to the future millennial reign of Christ on earth!
Colossians 1:13 is most interesting. In the Greek test it reads

For He delivered, rescued (Aorist tense, ruo) us from the official, absolute authority, domain (exousia) of darkness, and caused us to be moved and stand in a new position (Aorist tense, methistemi) in the kingdom of His dear Son.
Methistemi is a compound: meta=with; histemi=to stand. It means "To make possible the impossible," "to separate." Or, to stand in a new position! (Balz & Schneider) Alford writes: "Not to be taken of the future kingdom, nor is it proleptic, but is a historic fact, realized at our conversion." This supports the fact that believers in the church age are now promised a place in the millennial kingdom though the actual final transfer is yet to take place. We have a new position but the church is still not called the kingdom!
Ritchie observes: "Kingdom is usually futurist, referring primarily to the visible manifestation of the kingdom when Christ comes to reign."

God has the right to expand the benefits [of the covenants] as He wishes (as He does through Christ).
No one doubts that the Lord can do what He wishes, but this is a mute point. The issue the PDs are making is that God expanded the promises of the Abrahamic covenant to the church without any mention of the same. By this they join the promises of Israel to the church thereby creating some kind of continuity and making all the saved (along with the promises) into one people of God. 

But biblical dispensationalists fly their airplane by the instrument panel of the Word of God. We try not to "create" doctrines, or make them up, as we go along. We are extremely textual and try to prove only what God speaks about. 

While there are distinctions between Israel and the church, there is still the "oneness of God’s people."

There are things that are common to both Israel and the church, but this is far from saying that there is but one program of God, or one people of God. It is good to read that the PDs believe there are still distinctions but the problem comes to fore when they argue for a certain sameness, or for the two bodies simply melded together. Bock does this by referring to Ephesians 2:11-22. But you cannot get out of this passage that there is one people of God that extends back into the Old Testament, includes the church age, and then goes forward and covers the tribulation saints and the kingdom saints.
Of course the church saints in their new bodies will be enjoying the kingdom reign of Christ! And all believers of all generations are saved only by the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross. But this is far different from seeing One Big Program of God spanning the entire history of the world (and of the Bible)! 

In my opinion Bock is somewhat dishonest. The Ephesians 2 passage is saying that presently, during the dispensation of the church age, both Jew and Gentile do form one spiritual body! Thus it could be said that there is one people of God, if you confine this to the church age! But Paul is arguing that the church age is unique and that the spiritual body of Christ constitutes both Jewish and Gentile believers. Bock’s point then must be confined to the church age. 

As a mystery the church was in the Old Testament, concealed, and not to be revealed until the New Testament period.
It amazes me how the PDs have a problem reading the plain text of Scripture! They argue that the word "mystery" (musterion) in Ephesians 3:1-9 suggests that the church, with Jew and Gentile, was actually in the Old Testament though it was not understood until New Testament times. This is the way the PDs can come up with the "one people of God" theory, by arguing that this "one people" was always there in the Old Testament but we just did not recognize it!

A careful reading of Ephesians 3:1-9 will not yield that idea.
Paul writes that the "stewardship (dispensation, oikonomia) of God’s grace … by revelation" was made known to him (v. 3), and that it was a mystery. As the Ephesian saints read what he wrote, they "could understand my insight into the mystery of Christ" (v. 4). But the key idea seems to be in verse 5: "which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." Then the mystery is spelled out in verse 6: "to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel." 

But it is verse 9 that the issue seems to be settled: To Paul was given the revelation "to bring to light what is the administration (dispensation, oikonomia) of the mystery which for ages had been hidden in God ..." Only God had in mind His master plan that would include both Jew and Gentile in the same body in the church age! There is no hint in these verses that the mystery only meant a certain hiding of the nature of the church in the Old Testament. On this verse nondispensationalist Alford writes:

The dispensation (arrangement, regulation) of the mystery (the union of Jews and Gentiles in Christ) was now to be humbly traced and acknowledged in the fact of its having secretly existed in the primal counsels of God, and now having been revealed to the heavenly powers by means of the Church.
Nondispensationalist Ellicott adds:
The mystery is of the dispensation of the gospel as existing in the primeval purposes of the Divine Mind hidden from the beginning of the world (properly, from the ages) till the time of its revelation was come.
Ryrie summarizes:
In general, differences in interpretation and emphases among normative dispensationalists do not change the overall system of dispensationalism, whereas the differences advanced by progressive dispensationalists do form a new and revised system that some (both dispensationalists and nondispesationalists) believe is not dispensationalism anymore.3 (bold mine)

-- Dr. Mal Couch

1 "Love for Zion," Christianity Today, March 1992, 50.
2 See quotes in his Dispensationalism (Revised) (Moody), 178.
3. Ibid., p. 162.

Monday, January 15, 2007


Before World War I France was the most sinful nation on earth. The most evil of decadence was paraded in Pigalle, and along the rue de la Huchette, just a block from the Notre Dame. France was known as the sin capital of Europe.

The French would pay with a judgment from God. The nation suffered millions of casualties from 1914 to 1918. But following the war, in the 1920s, with horrible inflation and unemployment in the larger cities, Germany would become the most evil nation, taking the honors from France. Along one of the most popular thoroughfares, the Kurfurstendamm, young homosexual men paraded with powered faces. In the bars one could see wealthy businessmen from the financial world courting drunken sailors or attending transvestite balls. Hundreds of men costumed as women cavorted under the amused eyes of the benevolent police.

Well over two million young German widows desperate for income (and for attention), sold themselves into prostitution. In the alleys of the Haptbahnhof, they sought prey. Many presented themselves as muscular prostitutes, and mothers in their early thirties, carrying whips for deviant acts with those who could pay. Many teamed up with teenage girls to offer "Mother and daughter sex." Sex acts were openly carried out in bars and cocaine and morphine flowed like water. Many of the women were dead within a few years of diseases or even by violence.

This all happened under the short period of German democracy called the Weimar Republic. Liberty had turned to evil license (as it now is in America). In Italy, things were no better. Depravity was part of the scene of Rome and other big cities. The Gentile peoples of both Germany and Italy would suffer terribly in World War II. Germany alone would have upwards of twenty million war casualties.

One of the most horrible stories of the war, and its judgment from the Lord upon the Germans who killed the Jews, took place with the invasion of Russia. As the troops moved into Russia in 1941, coming behind the frontline soldiers were SS men called the einsatzgrupen. Their job was to round up the Jews in Russian villages and kill them on the spot. Because they got behind in this slaughter they went from 3,000 troops to 300,000 who were outright killers! This of course tied up the forward fighting soldiers, but never mind, the hatred against the Jews was so strong the German generals felt they had to do this.

But retribution was swift against the Nazis from the Lord! When the Germans were trapped in the winter at the battle of Stalingrad, the soldiers died like flies. 100,000 were wounded. They could not be fed or attended to by their comrades. They were piled up alive in cold train boxcars and given no food or medicine. They all perished! Another 90,000 were captured by the Russians and marched in the snow to Siberia. They too died horrible deaths. And in the Siberian concentration camps the captured German troops were committing cannibalism. Only 7,000 of the 90,000 returned back to Germany at the end of the war.

We cannot separate history from God’s providence. This judgment upon Europe was no fluke or "accident" that happened apart from the Lord bringing wrath upon a wayward people! By the way, several things contributed to the hatred of the German people against the Jews. (1) The amillennialism of Lutheranism, (2) with its Replacement Theology that stubbornly argued that God was through with the Jews and that they deserved any pain that fell upon them! And before World War II began, German children each morning in school sang songs to Hitler "who is our savior and lord!" The German parents of these children allowed and even agreed with such blasphemy!

But the wayward Jews of Germany would not escape the horrors of World War II. Hundreds of thousands would be killed in the death camps, as part of the total six million Jews who died who lived throughout Europe, Poland, and Russia. To understand the specific judgment that would come upon the German Jews, one has to go back to Hungarian born journalist Theodore Herzl. In 1896 he wrote a book entitle The German State. A year before he had become a Zionist who wanted to see that the Jews of Europe could immigrate to another land out of Europe. He did not care to what land—South America, Zanzibar, Africa, Canada, etc.

Herzl appealed to the German Emperor Bismarck to help but received on answer. He called for the first Zionist Conference which brought an awakening to the Jews about the plight of their people, especially those living in Eastern Europe, Poland and Russia, who were existing under terrible persecution.

But most of the Jews of Germany did not want to leave Germany. They had become "German" mentally and in their soul! They were prosperous, educated, held positions of influence, and were to a degree living a life of luxury. Herzl became an annoyance to the German Jews. They hated him and became insulting cynics. His own Jewish friends derided the idea of leaving the comfort of Germany, for Palestine or any other place in the world.

Many of the founders of the liberal Judaism (the Reformed) took Herzl to task. Both the orthodox and the Reformed Jewish leaders roundly attacked Herzl for his radical ideas of founding a homeland, especially Palestine, for the German Jews. Concerning the Old Testament prophecies of a return of Israel back to the Holy Land, one of the liberal Jewish leaders wrote: "Jerusalem is a noble memory from the past and the cradle of our religion, but it holds no hope for the future. No new life can begin there. Let us not disturb its rest."

THIS IS EXACLTY THE ATTITUDE OF CHRISTIAN COVENANT AND ALLEGORICAL scholars today about Bible prophecy. God is not going to restore Israel back to the Holy Land!

Herzl’s ideas threatened the comfort of the well-to-do German Jews. Some wealthy Jews even refused to help persecuted Russian Jews get to Palestine. One Jewish intellectual poet urged Jews to have an operation to straighten their curved Jewish noses so they would fit in better in the culture and not have to address the idea of persecution and be driven from Germany.

Herzl wanted the Jews to leave the persecution of the Gentiles in order to be happy. One Jewish philosopher responded that to be happy "the Jews’ task was to go on living among the nations as the God-sent dew, to remain with them and be fruitful for them."

Herzl wanted the first Zionist Conference to be held in Munich but the Jews of Germany were so strong against it he had to move it to Basel. When Herzl held that first Zionist Conference in Switzerland in 1897, only sixteen Jews came from Germany. When the second Conference was held the Jews coming from Germany still remained small in number. Ironically, the Conference was opened with the overture to Richard Wagner’s Tannhauser. Wagner was an adamant anti-Semitic! In all of Germany only 400 Jews registered as Zionists, that is, as those who were in favor of the Jews returning to the Holy Land from Europe!

Though the Jewish economist Franz Oppenheimer joined the Zionists he remained a loyal German Jew. He put it this way: "Jews should read 99% of what the German philosophers Kant and Goethe say, and only 1% of the Old Testament, and that should be through the filter of the atheist Spinoza and Luther’s translation of the Bible."

Ironically, by 1909 there were some younger Jews who argued against their people being assimilated into the German culture and losing their Jewish-ness. They realized that they were not any more accepted in Germany when they tried to hide their Jewish roots. A wealthy Jew, Kurt Blumenfeld, saw where it was going for his people in the future. He became a Zionist and headed up the Zionist Conferences. "He sensed the coming of a great disaster, able to smell," as he put it, "rottenness and putrefaction" while other Jews "strangely enough, only experienced well-being."

Realizing his generation’s complete lack of "Jewish" substance, Blumenfeld saw Zionism, and the desire to return to the Holy Land, as a catalyst for Jewish personal transformation. Blumenfeld had his dark side, however. He urged Zionists, those who felt the tug back to the Promised Land, to resist making the issue a religious or biblical and prophetic one. Instead, he argued, they should read the annihilation atheistic writings of Nietzsche for their inspiration.

For their rejection of what little they knew of their own Bible, and Bible prophecy, the Jews of Germany would pay a high price. They for the most part would lose everything, including even their lives. Many thousands, however, were driven to immigrate to the Holy Land and helped establish the new nation of Israel.

Both Gentile and Jew would suffer for their rejecting of God—for their immorality and for turning against the Word of God. A terrible judgment would fall on both the German nationals and the Jews who thought they were living securely in that country. The Gentiles did it their way, and the Jews likewise!

This was all predicted in Jeremiah 30 though the context there has to do with the Day of the Lord, the birth pangs, that fall upon Israel and the world. The Gentile nations will be judged: "For I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you [Israel] completely, but I will chasten you justly, and will by no means leave you unpunished" (v. 11). What happened in the past, the various judgments, were but partial; what is yet coming in the seven year tribulation, as Jeremiah 30 indicates, will be horrific!

-- Dr. Mal Couch

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The Shekinah Glory

 It is often asked when the prophesied return of the Shekinah Glory the Millennial Temple will be. There is renewed interest today in the millennium and the coming presence of God to the kingdom and its rebuilt temple. And there are questions to answer. For instance, is the Shekinah in the Old Testament the presence of God the Father, or of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ?

First, the term shekinah comes from the Hebrew word shakan, meaning "to dwell". It represents the fellowship dwelling of God with His own on earth. Now the Bible makes it clear that God is omnipresent, so no geographical location is really "housing" Him in a limitation spatial sense. But the shekinah signifies that the Lord has taken up residence with His people in a specific fellowship/spiritual way.

Was the Shekinah in the Old Testament, and in the future rebuilt temple, the preincarnate Christ, or simple a representation of the presence of God the Father? I believe it has to do with God the Father because Christ said in Matthew 23:21: “He who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him [the Father] who dwells within it.” Here the second person of the trinity is referring to the first person—God the Father!

With both the tabernacle (the tent) and the temple, the rabbis considered the orientation of the earthly edifice to face the Heavenly Temple when praying. If they thought prayer depended upon orienting oneself towards the Shekinah, whose presence was within the Holy of Holies, then even after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple prayer could be continued in the direction of the desolated sanctuary.

Some have questioned whether God has ever left the site of the temple. Solomon would built a “house for My name” (2 Sam. 7:13; 1 Kings 8:20) which some feel may imply that the Lord is always there in respect to His name, and thus ever present. His Shekinah glory is a demonstration of His presence. But this argument may not fit by what we know of what happened with the Babylonian invasion.

A question arises about the “Tent of Meeting” Moses was to construct. It was erected outside the camp of the people so that Moses could privately enter in the presence (Shekinah) of God and receive divine guidance. Some think this was a provisional structure. But it is better to see the Tent of Meeting and the inner tabernacle as two parts of a single structure. So when the first temple was dedicated, the portable Tent of Meeting/Tabernacle was incorporated within the new permanent structure (1 Kings 8:4).

The first Babylonian invasion took place in 605 B.C. with the second invasion and deportation following in 597. The temple treasures were removed (2 Kings 24:13), the prophet Ezekiel was deported, and the final destruction of the temple and Jerusalem was prophesied to happen in 586. Ezekiel saw the Shekinah glory (the presence of the Lord) departing from the temple and vanishing over the Mount of Olives to the East (Ezek. 10:18-19). With the departure of God’s presence, the temple was set apart as something common, ready for destruction. All orthodox Jews believe the Shekinah never “fully” left the temple and therefore, since the site of the ancient Holy of Holies is unknown or debated, it would be sacrilege to step on the place where the temple stood since one may step on the Holy of Holies where the Lord still presently dwells.

Since neither the Ark nor the Shekinah were present in the Second Temple, rabbinical tradition held that the Ark will be revealed in the future by the messianic king, who will also build the Third Temple (Zech. 6:12-13). (Actually it will be the “Antichrist” who will fool the Jews in thinking he is the real thing. He will construct the “false” temple that will be standing during the tribulation.) However, the Messiah will come at the end of the tribulation. This will find future fulfillment in the reconstruction “fourth” temple prophesied by Ezekiel when the Shekinah re-enters its Holy of Holies (Ezek. 37:26-28; 43:1-7, 12). Since the Shekinah glory did not come to the second temple (Herod’s), this is why Ezekiel says so much about it with the Restoration Temple—this glory coming for the Millennial period (Ezek. 40-48).

With the return of the Shekinah to the Millennial temple, the condition of “no glory” (ichabod) will become “glory” (chabod). The Temple Mount will be physically elevated above all other mountains in the land (Isa. 2:2; 40:4-5; Micah 4:1) but it will shine out as a beacon to all the nations as the place where the divine revelation and presence will reside on earth (Isa. 2:2-3; 49:6; Jer. 8:20-23). So clear is it that the Lord will be there, the city of Jerusalem will have a new name—YHWH Shammah (“the Lord is there”).

While the Shekinah in the Old Testament mainly represents God the Father’s presence, in the Millennial temple Christ, as God the Son, will be seen also in His “glorious presence.” In the new Jerusalem there will be no physical temple because the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, “are its temple” (Rev. 21:22). The “glory of God” will illumine it, “and its lamp is the Lamb” (v. 23). In other words the Father and the Son, “their” Shekinah, and their glory, will be as sun light for the eternal state.

For further study, see The Temple and Bible Prophecy, Randall Price, Harvest House, 2005.

-- Dr. Mal Couch

Saturday, January 13, 2007


 There it was. Right there on my shelf-slightly dusty! The book I purchased in Jerusalem in 1975 from one of the leading Rabbis, S. Schaffer, is entitled Israel's Temple Mount. I had to go to the house of the old orthodox sage in order to purchase my copy. He was kind and gentle with me, whom he recognized as a Goy (Gentile) foreigner from Texas. At the time he was considered the most recognized Jewish scholar on the subject of the temple.

After blowing the dust off the book I found he had a lot to say about the Shekinah glory. Some of it contradictory to what other Rabbis may say. Below are quotes from his volume:

 In the Second Temple (the one standing during Jesus' day) every detail of the services was carried out according to the Torah (Law) though some things were lacking. The Ark was missing, also missing was the Divine Presence (the Shekinah), and the Holy Spirit (the Ruach Hakodesh), the priest's oracle (the Urim ve-Thumim).

Though the Second Temple (Herod's temple) was destroyed in 70 AD, the Shekinah (Divine Presence) never left the Western Wall. Using allegory, the Rabbis believe Song of Solomon 2:9 is saying that God's presence would never leave the wall! It would not be toppled because the Holy One, blessed be He, had given an oath to David that it shall never be destroyed. "Our Wall" is the name kept and cherished for the Kotel which stood in the shade of the temple and which was never eliminated by its foes. The Western Wall stands in perpetuity of the Jewish people and signifies the continued hope of the Israel for all generations. According to Isaiah 2:2-3 the Messiah as the Lord will be there and bring blessings when He establishes His kingdom reign.

Now it will come about that in the last days, the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills, and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways, and that we may walk in His paths." For the law will go forth from Zion. (Isa. 2:2-3)

One ancient rabbinical tradition says that a Rabbi Hai (Rav Hai) found himself in the presence of Elijah. He asked "When was the Messiah to appear?" Elijah responded by saying when 300 Kohanim (priests) circle the Mount of Olives and pray, the Messiah will come. After the Six Day War of 1967, the priests flocked again to the Western wall of the temple mount where their forefathers performed the blessings of old. This continues today with 300 or more Rabbis gathering at the Western Wall (rather than the Mount of Olives) who pray for the arrival of the Messiah to come and bring in the kingdom!

For further study, see The Temple and Bible Prophecy, Randall Price, Harvest House, 2005.

-- Dr. Mal Couch

Friday, January 12, 2007

Premillennialists Are Right!

The shock of all shocks!
For over 150 years premillennialists and dispensationalists have been teaching the prophecies of Scripture about the someday rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. They take the Bible literally and realize from a stable of verses that historically this was predicted to happen.

For the first time that I know of, a contemporary orthodox rabbi is calling for the rebuilding of the temple. The article was published in the devotional section of the current International Jerusalem Post of July 13-19, 2007. The title is: The World Needs the Temple. While there have been certain fringe groups and Christian activists working in this direction, this is a first ever in a respected popular newspaper.

During the festival of Tisha Be'av (the ninth day of the fall month of Av) which takes place at about this time of the year, the Jews gather at the Temple Mount and mourn the fall of the temple that took place twice, in 586 BC and in AD 70. (The first was the Solomonic temple and the second was the Herodean temple) It was on the same day of both of those years that God Himself (through enemies of Israel) brought down the two temples and destroyed the city of Jerusalem!

I have been at the Wailing Wall on the Temple Mount during Tish Be'av. Jewish families come out at night, spread blankets on the ground, open up picnic baskets, and read the verses of mourning from Jeremiah's Lamentations. That book was written by the prophet to weep for the fall of the temple in 586 BC. Lamentations 3:22-23 was always especially read: "The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness."

After discussing some of the history of the two temples, the Jerusalem Post article points out that it was rabbi Akiva (circa. AD 135) who called for the rebuilding of the temple. Akiva taught that Israel's purpose on earth was to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priest-teachers who would bless the earth. No better place to show God's work than in the City of Peace, Jerusalem!

The article concludes: "Only a Temple teaching absolute morality in the City of Peace can secure the future of freedom in our global village." Interestingly, the coming of the Messiah is not mentioned in the Post column! For now, that is the touchy point for the orthodox Jews because they know it shines a great big light on the teachings and the beliefs of the Christian premillennial futurists! However in my opinion, the fact that this article was written at all is a miracle and shows that maybe slowly the eyes of the Jews are being opened to end-time issues. The amillennial and allegorical covenant guys have no answers for this article or for the march of prophecy in the Middle East that is obvious to all who know prophetic Scripture. The amillennialists and the preterists remain brain dead and silent. They have boxed themselves in and teach that the church has replaced Israel. They take prophecy in an allegorical way, destroy and repudiate any literal, historical fulfillment. In their minds "God is through with the Jews!" But of course this is not so!

-- Dr. Mal Couch

Thursday, January 11, 2007


For almost 2000 years the Jewish people have longed for the promised Messiah. They have been hounded, beaten, tortured, suffering fire and drowning in their anticipation of His arrival. When the great temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D., and especially after the failed Bar Kokhba revolt of 135 A.D., the Jewish people went into a deepening Diaspora that would scatter them almost worldwide. Unfortunately, the revered rabbi Akiba thought that Bar Kokhba was the Messiah. His hopes were dashed when this brave warrior was slain in an ally way by the Romans. With the scattering that followed, the descendants of Abraham driven from Palestine would become known as “The Wandering Jews,” who would find no rest among the Gentile nations.

Nevertheless, wherever they traveled they took with them a longing to see the coming of the promised Anointed One, the Messiah! And with his arrival, the Jewish people would be gathered from around the world and brought back to the Promise Land of their Forefathers. Sadly, there were times the Jews thought that the Messiah had arrived. The most notorious imposter was Zabatai ben Zvi (fifteen century) who claimed to be the promised One. But when the Turks captured him and put a sword to his neck, he quickly disavowed his messianic role, and then promptly converted to Islam!

Up until about two hundred and fifty years ago, and the coming of the so-called period of intellectual Enlightenment, the Messiah’s arrival was the anticipation of almost all Jews. From the Ural Mountains of Russia, the plains of Poland, the cities and farmlands of greater Europe, and wherever the Jews were scattered, the suffering sons of Israel longed to see the Old Testament prophecies fulfilled. They prayed to go home with the Messiah leading the way!

That messianic hope, however, had been fraught with dangers along the way, because unfortunately in the name of Christ and Christendom, the Jews suffered unspeakable agony. Yet patience and persistence became a virtue. Doggedly, the rabbis taught from tradition and the Bible a series of beliefs and doctrines that sustained the isolated clusters of Jews in some of their greatest hours of need.

Much of what the rabbis said sounds very familiar to Evangelical Christians today. For example:
The rabbis understood clearly that the scattering came upon their people as predicted in the Old Testament. This happened because of the hardness of heart of past generations.

The Messiah will not arrive until the Jewish people repent of their sins. This sounds very much like the words of both John the Baptist and Jesus. In fact, many Jewish scholars have taken note that these two New Testament personalities proclaimed, “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand!” Jewish scholar Raphael Patai remarks, “The Messiah was prevented from coming because the generation was unworthy; because there were too many sins.”

The rabbis also taught that there would be a seven-year period of terrible tribulation that would fall upon the Gentiles and the Jewish people in the End Times. This is called the War of God and Magog. How did the rabbis come up with a seven-year period known also as “the time of Jacob’s trouble”? There are only two sources where one can find such predictions. In Daniel’s great prophetic calculation of his Seventy Weeks (heptads), or seventy times seven (490 years) determined on God’s people, Israel (Dan. 9), there seems to be yet seven years of horror remaining in the prophecy that will fall upon the world. Some rabbis apparently have calculated this prediction correctly. But they also see the mention of a seven-year tribulation period in the book of Revelation.

Coming against the Jews, and the nations, would be the satanic personality known as Armilus. He would be the great deceiver who many rabbis have labeled as the Antichrist.

The Messiah, however, would suddenly come to rescue Israel. He is called the Shoot (Isa. 11:1), the son of David, the Suffering Servant and Savior who would bring salvation both to the Jews and the Gentiles (Isa. 53). The Jewish writing the Pesiqta Rabbati (edited 1880, Vienna) says that for the sins of the children the Messiah will suffer: “for their sins your tongue will cleave to the roof of your mouth,” and “great sufferings will come upon you on their account.”

Following the prophecies of Zechariah, the rabbis also taught that when the Messiah arrives, his feet would touch the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, and that he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey. As mentioned in the book of Revelation, they say his kingdom would last a thousand years!

What about the origin and character of the Messiah as taught by the rabbis from the Scriptures?

Patai says the sages believed he preexisted because of the epithet “Head of Days.” From the Jewish writing 1 Enoch 48:6, the rabbis also concluded that he existed before creation: They argue the Messiah was “hidden before [God], even before the creation of the world and will even live evermore.” They write that He was also called the Prince of Peace from Isaiah 11:1. Too, he would bear the sins of the people and their diseases, as mentioned in Isaiah 53:4.

The most respected Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), gave what he called the Thirteen Principles of the Faith. In this “orthodox” document he believed the Messiah would come from God the Creator and then would be “remembered and exalted for all eternity.” He added, “King Messiah, the Son of Man, will arise in the future and will restore the kingship of David to its ancient condition, to its rule as it was at first. He will rebuild the Temple and gather the exiled of Israel.”

Maimonides also pronounced a warning to his fellow Jews. “He who does not believe in him, or he who does not await his coming, denies not only the other prophets, but also the Law and Moses our Master.” When the Messiah comes, he added, every thing known in the old world will be annulled, there will be something new in the order of creation. He saw a new heaven and a new earth, similar to what the prophet John speaks about in the book of Revelation.

Some believe the messianic age is around the corner. Here are some possible signs: (1) The nation of Israel has been re-established. (2) In so many ways, the nations are antagonistic to the re-gathered Jewish people. It was prophesied the world would despise the Jewish people. (3) And because Israel is back in the land, many Jews are ready to fully reclaim the boundaries of the Holy Land and rebuild the temple!

Many Jews and Christians wait with expectation the next chapter in the ongoing drama of Israel. What will happen next? It seems only reasonable to believe that somehow, and in some way, the promises of the coming Messiah will play a definite role in world events! Chaim Potok writes in his classic book on the history of the Jews, Wanderings: a garden of new dreams is to come forth that will add to the covenants of the Old Testament and the prophesied messianic hopes. Then the broken world will be healed!

-- Dr. Mal Couch

History of the Jews, 6 vols. Heinrich Graetz. Philadelphia: Jewish Publishing Society, 1939.
The Messiah Text. Raphael Patai. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1979.
The Pope’s Jews. Sam Waagenaar. LaSalle, Ill.: Library Press Book, 1974.
Wanderings, Chaim Potok. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1978.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


In Acts 3:18-26 there is a war raging as to what "the times of refreshing" and "period of restoration" mean. Progressive Dispensationalists say the (1) refreshing has to do with this present church period, and (2) the restoration is about the millennial kingdom. Amillennialists believe that both expressions have nothing to do with the kingdom, which was forfeited by the Jewish people. The church is now taking the place of the earthly kingdom promises. Some amillennialists believe the restoration has to do with restoring the earth, and the realm of mankind, back to the Pre-Fall period. Everything will be restored to a time of sinless perfection.

Classical dispensationalists believe that both expressions have to do with the messianic kingdom reign of Christ, whereby He will bring peace to the earth and reign worldwide from Jerusalem "with a rod of iron" (Psa. 2:9), ruling with that "strong scepter" in "the midst of [His] enemies" (110:2). This position will be proven from Acts 3 by (1) context, (2) how the Jews would have understood the two expressions, and (3) by the grammar of the passages in view.

While few argue that the church began in Acts 2, there is some confusion about what the apostle Peter is talking about in Acts 3:18-26. (1) Is he discussing still the issue of the church, (2) Is he saying that the coming kingdom is somehow connected to the church, (3) Or has he moved to another subject, the future messianic kingdom, which is not related to the church age?

It is important to focus on the verses that are critical to what is being taught in the passage by Peter. Verses 19-21 are of special interest and need our attention in this discussion:

Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

The Context
Chapter 3 picks up with John and Peter right after the miraculous events of Pentecost in chapter 2. They had just healed the lame many at the temple gate called Beautiful (3:6-11). The gathering crowd offered the occasion for Peter to speak again about "faith in the name of Jesus," the Prince of life (vv. 15-16). Peter reminds the congregation of Jews that it was announced before hand in "all the prophets" that the Lord’s Christ (Messiah, Anointed One) would suffer. This "He has thus fulfilled" (v. 18). If the Jews repented He would come from the presence of the Lord (v. 19), the one who was appointed for them (v. 20) and bring "restoration of all things" which God spoke about through the holy prophets (v. 21).

While the church age had already begun in Acts 2, this was a promise of the return of Christ to reign over the restored theocracy. The "times of refreshing" coming with Christ would be what we label "the second coming." The first coming, when He came to suffer, was fulfilled literally (v. 18) when Christ went to the cross. The second coming will also be literal.

Peter continues and says that Christ was the one Moses prophesied about (in Deuteronomy 18:15) as the "other" Prophet the Lord said the people should heed (v. 22). If the people do not listen to Him they are to be destroyed (v. 23). All the prophets spoke of the day of His coming (v. 24), and, as the covenant with Abraham promised, He would bless "all the families of the earth" (v. 25). Peter sums up by saying: "For you first [the Jewish people], God raised up His Servant (Christ) and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways" (v. 26).

With verse 26 Peter is saying that the Sacrifice of the Messiah comes before the Reign of the Messiah!
Hermeneutics, Interpretation, and Acts 3
Did Peter know of God’s timetable? Did he understand the length and breadth, and extent of the church age that had just begun? Did Peter even fully realize that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 would begin something new, and that God would be in the process of now rejecting the nation of Israel as a whole for their rejection of Christ? At this stage, did Peter fully understand that a new dispensation had begun, and that the kingdom would be postponed?

If we believe in Progressive Revelation, the answer is no. Progressive Revelation would mean in this passage that Peter did not fully understand all that was happening. His offer is legitimate though He did not know the full mind of the Lord in the matter of his imperative for the Jews to "Repent …" In hindsight we understand now that the Jews as a whole would not do this. Summarizing Progressive Revelation:

By progressive revelation we mean that the Bible sets forth a movement of God, with the initiative coming from God and not man, in which God brings man up through the theological infancy.1

The progress of revelation certainly suggests that God may have had in mind certain facts that some of the human authors did not full comprehend, but that others may have known with additional revelation given later.2

In many prophecies of Scripture, God did not reveal everything at once concerning a specific truth of doctrine. … Progressive revelation is especially important in gaining a full understanding of eschatology as the prophetic plan unfolds through the Word of God.3

In conclusion, Larkin notes:

God’s foreknowledge that the Jewish nation would not at that time heed the announcement that the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand and repent, does not militate against the sincerity of the announcement any more than the offer of spiritual salvation by a preacher of the Gospel to an audience of sinners who he has every reason to believe will refuse his offer, is not a sincere and "bona fide" offer.4
The Amillennial View
Many amillennialists do not know what to do with Acts 3. Their theology gets in the way, though generally, I appreciate their exegetical skills in the Greek text. They work hard to disavow what the text is teaching about the millennial hope of the nation of Israel. The old Princeton scholar Alexander writes concerning 3:19: "Looking simply at this verse, the times of refreshing, as observed already, might denote nothing more than the relief from pain, and other pleasurable feelings which accompany repentance and conversion."5

Barrett writes on verse 21:

"One aspect of the restoration of all things is given in 1:6 … Luke … suggests about the restoration of creation to the sinless and blissful state of Adam in Eden is clear that he did not think in [Jewish] nationalistic terms.6
Disregarding the idea of an earthly, literal, historic messianic kingdom reign on earth by Christ, Hackett adds on verse 19 about the times of refreshing: This "refers to the present consolation of the gospel, or to the blessedness which awaits the followers of Christ at the end of the world, when he shall return and receive them to himself in heaven. … "The apostle [had] in view Christ’s second coming, when those who have believed on him shall enter upon their eternal rest in heaven." 7 Notice how any earthly kingdom idea is ignored. When interpreting a passage of Scripture, the interpreter must keep in view what the listeners had in mind. God does not speak with forked tongue! The Jews took the passage about the "refreshing" as the millennial reign!
Christ Should Suffer, He Thus Fulfilled (3:18)
The sufferings of Christ were thoroughly announced in many Old Testament passages. It was predicted to happen literally and historically. Peter speaks of the predictions as the things using the relative pronoun a which is a neuter, plural, accusative in the Greek text. Broadly speaking, and by using the plural pronoun Peter may include Christ’s virgin birth, life ministry, death, burial, and resurrection, all of which are prophesied in the Old Testament. He would certainly be including the great body of verses about the establishment of the Davidic earthly reign of the Messiah! The expression announced before is the Greek word prokataggelo that is actually three words put together which means: "to before accordingly announce" (aorist, active, indicative). The prophets not only wrote all of these things down but they spoke about them "by the mouth."

Peter then adds "He has thus fulfilled" (plarao, aorist, active, indicative). The word thus is houtos and should be translated likewise. The fulfillment was certain and guaranteed by the authority of God Himself. "Fulfillment" was almost always referring to a literal and actual completion that happened on earth, in time.

Repent therefore and return (3:19a)

Peter here uses two aorist imperatives with the verbs (metanoeo, change the mind) and (epistrepho, turn around, turn back). The Jewish people today know perfectly well that repentance is required for the nation to be redeemed. In New Testament times repentance was necessary for the messianic kingdom to begin. Repentance was the burning message of both John the Baptist, and of the Lord Himself, when they began to minister to Israel. In the Gospels, as a verb and a noun, the word is used twenty-six times. Israel was to reject their sins, turn away from them, and turn to Christ. Some did, but most did not!

The ancient Jewish rabbis even say, "The Messiah was prevented from coming because the generation was unworthy."8 Rabbi Eliezer said, "If Israel repents, it will be redeemed; if not, it will not be redeemed."9 Rabbi Y’hoshu’a hinted at the fact that the Messiah would send the Antichrist to bring about repentance. He wrote, "[Can it be that] if they do not repent they will not be redeemed? [No,] but the Holy One, blessed be He, will cause a king to arise against them whose decrees will be cruel like [those of] Haman, [whereupon] Israel will repent and turn to be good."10
Avi-Yonah and Baras add to this in their historical analysis of New Testament times, that John "had to prepare the way for the Messiah’s coming by preaching repentance. … He exhorted the people to repent, for the kingdom of heaven [the earthly messianic rule] was near. … Baptism was one of the principle elements of conversion; John the Baptist now made it a basic requirement for repentance."11
What did Peter mean by return (epistrepho)?
In almost 100% of the uses, the word means to turn around, return, bring back, and in a few cases, to convert.12 While the word is certainly connected to the spiritual conversion of the Jews, and the wiping away of their sins, as well as being connected to the word repent, the idea behind the concept has further implications. It is connected to the purpose clauses hopos (v. 19, that) and hopou (v. 20, that), with the idea in order that. There is almost no difference in this construction and the conditional element in all purpose clauses that normally begin with hina.13 What we have then is: Repent … and return … in order that the times of refreshing may come and in order that [God] may send Jesus the Christ appointed for you.

While the repentance will certainly bring salvation and the wiping away of their sins, Peter has more than this in view. He had in mind the coming of Christ (the Anointed One) who is to reign on the throne in Jerusalem. Again, Peter did not understand all that was happening at Pentecost. He did not realize that a new transition was underway. But this does not mean he was wrong in what he said. He did not know what God had in view, and that the He certainly knew by His divine foreknowledge that the Jews would not repent.
The Seasons of Refreshing (v. 19b)
For an honest interpreter of the Word of God, this passage is about the restoration of the theocratic kingdom prophesied in the Old Testament. It will be David’s Son, the Lord Jesus, who will rule on his throne from Jerusalem. The Jews had no idea when this would happen though they wanted it to happen immediately. The expression "times of refreshing" (kairoi anapsyxeos) (v. 19) and the expression "the period of restoration" (chronoi apokatastaseos) (v. 21) are without parallel in the New Testament, though the verb apokathistemi ("to restore"), which is the verbal form of apokatastasis ("restoration") is used extensively in the LXX of the predicted restoration of Israel (Jer. 15:19; 16:15; 24:6; 50:19; Ezek. 16:55; Hosea 11:11).14
There is little doubt that this is what Peter had in view!
The seasons (kairoi anapsyxeos) picture a period of cooling winds from the presence of the Lord, sunshine and pleasant breezes. God will give rest, political and national rest when the Christ, appointed "for you the Jews," will return from heaven.
Progressive Dispensationalism Misses the Mark
Progressive Dispensationalists believe this is the time of the church dispensation, but that the "period of restoration" is the kingdom. The expressions of "purpose" that flows together is unbreakable in the grammar. The two must be the same. In great detail Ryrie addresses this issue. Though what he says is lengthy it is worth quoting here:

A word should be said about the progressives’ revised interpretation of Acts 3:19-21 and the phrases "times of refreshing" and "restoration of all things." The former phrase, they say, refers to the present time [as they put it] (the "already" aspect of the kingdom) and the latter to the future return of Christ (the "not yet" phase). But that would not have been what Peter’s audience understood, nor is it supported exegetically. The "that" (hopos) in verse 20 introduces a purpose clause; i.e., repent for the purpose of or with a view to. The purpose involves two things happening—the coming of "times of refreshing" and the coming of Christ. Progressives believe that the times of refreshing refer to the present time, preceding the return of Christ. But the construction links the two events: the times of refreshing (the millennial, Davidic kingdom) will come when Christ returns and not before. The two clauses (with two subjunctive verbs) that follow hopos cannot be separated, as progressives do, in order to support their already (present Davidic kingdom, "restoration of all things") concept. Nothing grammatically separates the promises; in fact, they are joined together by the connective kai [and]. Therefore, both expressions refer to the promised restoration of the nation Israel in the Millennium. This teaching of an already inaugurated Davidic reign in revisionist dispensationalism is far from firmly established by clear exegesis of the relevant texts.15
Christ is Appointed for Israel as their King (3:20)
The amillennialists and the Progressives are grammatically wrong when they attempt to force the issue that Peter is "not" discussing the millennial promises of the Lord. Peter uses two subjunctives that are tied to the word repent. "That refreshing MAY COME " (v. 19b) and "That [God] MAY SEND" (v. 20). "One could just as easily read verse 20 as "that He may send the foreordained Christ again" (understanding the Greek word palin (again) to be in view) as "that He may send the foreordained and future Christ."16

Peter said pointedly to the Jews that "the Christ (the Anointed One) was for them (v. 20b). This Christ is "His Christ" (v. 18), and this must refer to Psalm 2 where the messianic reign of the Christ, the Son of God, is in view, not His salvation work as prophesied in Isaiah 53.

As already shown, verse 20 is about a second "sending." Christ was "appointed" to come as Savior with His first appearance. This verse is speaking of another sending. The word appointed is a perfect, passive, participle in the Greek text. The grammar is saying that Christ "has been appointed" in the past and that appointment will come right on up until it happens, is fulfilled! The verb is procheirizo, with the hand, thus "to assign, signal with the hand, to take to hand," or "to appoint." Or, to gesture with the hand that something be carried out or done. In this case, God has signaled that His Son is the one designated to come to earth to rule and to bring peace to a near-destroyed planet.

The amillennialists keep missing the fact that Christ’s appointment here is "for you" the Jews. The messianic earthly reign is clearly set forth in the Old Testament. The king will rule over the world through the revived and regathered nation of Israel. Amillennialists like Lenski simply make His return as something that happens at the end of the world. He does not explain further what that means.17
Heaven must receive (3:21)
Christ ascended to the throne room of His heavenly Father before the very eyes of His apostles (Acts 1:11). They were told by an angel that He "will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven" Jesus told the Jewish Council upon His arrest that they would "see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matt. 26:63; Dan. 7).

With a reference to the Messiah being deity, Zechariah says that "His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west" (Zech. 14:4), and "Then the Lord my God, will come, and all the holy angels with Him!" (v. 5). Christ who is the Lord will be king over all the earth (v. 9), and the survivors of the tribulation from among the nations will come up to Jerusalem year after year and worship the King, the Lord of hosts (vv. 16-17).

Christ remains in heaven until (achri) "the period of restoration" (Acts 3:21). The Greek word restoration is a tri-compound word apokatastaseos that means "to again set in order." Or, "to restore something to the rightful owner." The word is also used to describe the "balancing of accounts." Some English texts translate this word as "the restitution." Liberal commentators, and some amillennialists, try to argue that the idea in view means the complete restoration of all things back to the time before the Fall of Adam. But that idea is not reflected in God’s holy prophets (plural) throughout the Old Testament, nor is it reflected in the context, and, in the discourse Peter is delivering to the Jews in Jerusalem! This idea is indicative of "a reach" by those who do not want to fact the obvious! But the millennial reign, the restoration of the theocracy, is cited with hundreds if not thousands of references "from ancient time."
Grammatically, the expressions the "times of refreshing" (v. 19) and "the period of restoration" (v. 21) must go together. The two expressions cannot be split up by the Progressives nor the amillennialists who want to deny the idea that Peter is referring to the restoration of the theocracy. Peter did not know at this point God’s timetable. He, along with the other disciples, would much later. Here in these early Acts chapters, and that Peter and others knew was that the Holy Spirit was poured out as Christ predicted (1:8) and as then happened in chapter 2.

Amillennial scholars, like Kistemaker, work hard to make the church the same as the kingdom, doing so by ignoring the fact that kingdom statements have to do with Israel and not the church. Kistemaker writes: "While Christ’s gospel is preached on earth, Jesus remains in heaven, from where he directs the development of his church and kingdom"18 Those who attempt to deny the obvious generally have an agenda, or an ax to grind. They avoid what is most clear to attempt to prove a point. But the grammar of the passage cannot be denied! It makes it clear that Peter could have still been looking for the coming kingdom if only his people would repent. In a distant theory, this could have happened. But God knew what the Jews were going to do. The kingdom was postponed and the church age would accelerate and spread to all the nations!

There are other older scholars like Alford who seem to "see the light." On verse 19 he wrote:

No other meanings, it seems to me, will suit the words, but that of the times of refreshment, the great season of joy and rest, which it was understood the coming of the Messiah in His glory was to bring with it. That this should be connected by the Apostle with the conversion of the Jewish people, was not only according to the plain inference from prophecy, but doubtless was one of those things concerning the kingdom of God which he had been taught by his risen Master.19

Ger well summarizes: 

 The cumulative fruit of individual repentance would be the messianic king’s return to establish the era of His sovereign rule, the "times of refreshing." In other words, Jesus will not return until Israel repents. Jesus is, after all, Peter pointed out, "the Christ appointed for you," with reference to the Jewish people. … This is the long anticipated "age to come" (Is. 11:1-12), the coming kingdom which will be the final realization of all the promises God had made to the Jewish people through the prophets.20
--Dr. Mal Couch

1. Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982), 102.
2. Roy Zuck, Basic Bible Interpretation (Colorado Springs, CO: Victor Books, 1991), 272.
3. Mal Couch, gen. ed., An Introduction to Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000), 64.
4. Clarence Larkin, Rightly Dividing the Word. (Glenside, PA: Rev. Clarence Larkin Est., 1920), 55.
5. J. A. Alexander, Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1956 reprint), 115.
6. C. K. Barrett, Acts, 2 Vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1994), 1:206.
7. Horatio B. Hackett, Commentary on Acts (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1992 reprint), 61.
8. Raphael Patai, The Messiah Texts (Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 1979), xxix.
9. Ibid., 61.
10. Ibid.
11. Michael Avi-Yonah and Zvi Baras, ed., Society and Religion in the Second Temple Period (Jerusalem: Massada Publishing, 1977), 210-11.
12. Horst Balz & Gerhard Schneider, ed., Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 3 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994), 2:40.
13. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 7 Vols. (Nashville: Broadman, 1930), III:46.
14. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 Vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981), 9:297.
15. Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody, 1995), 169-70.
16. Frank E. Gaebelein, gen. ed., Expositor’s, 9:298.
17. R. C. H. Lenski, The Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg, 1961), 142.
18. Simon J. Kistemaker, Acts (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995), 136.
19. Henry Alford, The Greek Testament, 4 Vols. (Chicago: Moody, 1958), 2:36.
20. Mal Couch & Ed Hindson, gen. eds., Acts Steve Ger (Chattanooga, TN: AMG, 2004), 65.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Ezekiel 38-39: The Coming Russian and Middle Eastern Invasion of Israel

Only someone blind would deny where things are going in the Middle East. What is happening is prelude to the prophesied coming Russian and Middle Eastern Invasion, described in detail in Ezekiel 38-39. In almost the identical words of Hitler, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, recently said, as quoted by Iranian News Channel Television:

Who are the Israelites? Where did they come from? Are they human beings? They are like cattle, yes, more misguided! A bunch of bloodthirsty barbarians. Next to them, all the criminals of the world seem righteous. When I see the behavior of America and England, and their accomplices in recent days, I get the impression that they are preparing even greater crimes. They should know that the fire of wrath is about to fall and overflow them. The Iranian people have nuclear technology. They should know that they are making a bitter mistake. If they have not realized this by now, they soon will, but then it will be too late. 

The Jewish Rabbinical commentaries on Ezekiel 38-39 read like present day dispensational commentaries, because we both take the prophecies in their plain meaning. These things are building up quickly to come to pass. Further inflaming the situation, Ahmadinejad goes on to say that God’s people have no place in the land. “The Zionist regime is an illegitimate regime, there is no legal basis for its existence.” This is almost the same thoughts of liberal Covenant (so-called) theologian Stephen Sizer in his InterVarsity book, Christian Zionism. The Covenant guys have joined the enemy!

It is the dispensational and premillennial teachers who are truly faithful to the biblical text, and the literalness of the Word of God, as clearly seen by the great Rabbinical thinkers of Orthodox Judaism.

-- Dr. Mal Couch


Sunday, January 7, 2007


With the present Middle East crises the question is again raised, “Is not God through with the Jews?” Has not the Church replaced Israel and God has finally and totally rejected Israel? Of course individual Jews can come to Christ, but will the Lord ever restore the national theocracy with the Lord Jesus reigning over the Davidic messianic kingdom?

Many pastors and so-called theologians are proclaiming publicly that what is happening in Israel and Lebanon has nothing to do with the Bible or prophecy. The Jewish people have no prophesied fulfillments that will come to pass in the future.

But what does the Bible say?
No one can honestly look at Scripture and say that the Lord is through will Israel, unless he purposefully rejects clear passages that remind the reader that God will restore the Jews to the Promised Land! Some try to say that the return of Israel back to the Land following the Babylonian Captivity was the final and complete fulfillment of a “return.” But no honest Bible scholar can make such a claim!

The Abrahamic Covenant Remains
God made it clear that the promises to Abraham would form a binding covenant (contract) that God Himself vows to fulfill, despite the failings of Abraham and his descendants (Gen. 12:1-3). Through Moses the Lord said: “I will remember My covenant with Jacob (Israel), and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land” (Lev. 26:42). But what if the Jews are unfaithful? Then, “the land shall be abandoned by them … because they rejected My ordinances and their soul abhorred My statutes” (v. 43). Well, if this happened (which it did), will not God then completely and forever cut the Jewish people off from their Land inheritance?

God continues His argument and says: “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant (the Abrahamic not the Mosaic) with them; for I am the Lord their God” (v. 44). And, “I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord” (v. 45).

While it is true the Mosaic Covenant is “conditional,” i.e. dependent on the Law keeping of Israel, the Abrahamic Covenant is solely dependent on the faithfulness of God to someday fulfill. And the promised of the Holy Land to some future generation is part and parcel of that vow from the Lord. The Abrahamic Covenant is “The word which He commanded to a thousand generations. The covenant which He made with Abraham, and His oath to Isaac. He also confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion of your inheritance’” (1 Chron. 16:15-18).

One of the most telling passages is found in Judges 2:1-2. In verse 2 God told Israel that when they came into the Land they played the harlot with the pagans and “you have not obeyed Me; what is this you have done?” (v. 2). Despite their sinfulness, and the fact that someday they would be temporarily be driven off the Land, the Lord emphasized: “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you’” (v. 1).

God will do what He said
There are no indications in Scripture that the Lord will turn His back on these promises. Some future generation of Jews will repent, turn to Christ as their Savior, and receive the kingdom blessings of the Land for one thousand years! Christ will be reigning on the throne of David in Jerusalem!

Despite their sinfulness, the world will see Israel’s restoration (Ezek. 39:21), and that they went into exile for their wickedness (v. 23). Nevertheless, God “will restore the fortunes of Jacob (not the Church)” and have mercy on the whole house of Israel (v. 25). They will dwell securely in the land (which has never happened as yet) and “no one will make them afraid” (v. 26). God will “bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations” (v. 27). God will “gather them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there (among the nations) any longer” (v. 28). The Lord will no longer hide His face from the Jews but “shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, declares the Lord” (v. 29).

How nice to be wrong!
The Reformed and Covenant theologians have a right to be wrong! And of course they are! They believe God has replaced the Church with Israel. Their allegorical and amillennial theology does not line up with the normal reading of Scripture. They have thoroughly misled believers through the generations and denied God’s everlasting promises to Israel.