Monday, July 02, 2007

REPLY TO PRESIDENT AHMEDINAJAD PART III

The last item I want to deal with is the President’s claim that the age of Ishmael negates Israel’s claim that God gave them the land of Israel. Since, as I said before, the age of Ishmael is irrelevant, this claim must also fail.

But that is not the end of the matter. Not everyone sees the world theologically, as the Muslims do. Therefore, many people, Jews and non-Jews, see that Israel has the right to their land and nation as a result, not of theology or scripture, but of international law and politics. The United Nations divided the land they called Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas and gave the Jews a homeland where it exits today. For all of these secular people, the Muslim claims regarding Ishmael carry no weight at all.

The Christian point of view is mixed. The current brand of Dispensationism claims that the prophesies and promises made to Abraham will be fulfilled in the current nation of Israel. Some of them have become quite Zionists, raising money to return Jews to Israel, raising money for the building of another temple and trying to breed red cows.

However, Christendom largely held throughout history that the promises made to Abraham were fulfilled in Christ, thereby negating any claim of modern Israel to those promises. Indeed, many commentators in times past referred to Old Testament Israel as the church.

It is true that God promised Abraham and his seed (or offspring) the land of Canaan. See Genesis 12:7. Paul makes the point that “seed” is singular and refers to Christ, not Israel. In Galatians 3:16, he says “The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.” Jesus, as recorded in Matthew 5:17, said he came to fulfill the law and the prophets. Genesis is part of “the law” in Jewish terminology. The Law referred to the first 5 books.

In Romans 9:8, he said it is not the natural children (the Jews) who are God’s children, but the children of promise (the Christians, the church). Paul goes on, in chapter 11, to describe Israel as a tree in which the natural branches (the unbelieving Jews) were broken off to allow others to be grafted in (believing Gentiles). In Matthew 21:43, Jesus told the Jewish leaders the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

That saying of Jesus came at the end of the “Parable of the Tenants”. In that parable, the landowner planted a vineyard. He rented it to some farmers. This is a reference to Isaiah 5, where God also spoke of planting a vineyard, which was Israel. In Isaiah 5, God said he would destroy the vineyard for the disobedience of the tenants. In Matthew 21, Jesus said he would take the vineyard away from the tenants and give it to other tenants. The Scripture records that the Pharisees and chief priests knew he was speaking of them. This happened as the parable showed. God gave Israel a generation to repent and accept Christ. They did not do so. God brought the Romans in and tore down Jerusalem, temple and all, and the torch passed to the church.

The theological claim of Israel to the land is forfeited. The promises to Abraham will be fulfilled in Christ and his church.

That does not help the Muslim, unless he or she accepts Jesus as Messiah, son of God, son of Abraham, in whom all promises are fulfilled.
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