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Does God Have a Special Place for Israel in the Millennium?

God's Plans for the Future of Israel:
Will the Jews Be God's Special People in the Millennium?

Will Israel be God's special people in the Millennium? Will the promises to Abraham be fulfilled in a coming earthly kingdom as Premillennialism teaches?

What does premillennialism teach about the future of the nation of Israel? Must God's promises to Abraham be fulfilled when Jesus comes again and establishes His kingdom on earth? Has Israel fully inherit the promised land of Palestine? Will Jesus reign for 1000 years as an earthly king in Jerusalem (Zion) during which time Israel will again be exalted as God's favored nation, and Gentiles will be subject to them? What does the Bible teach about the plan of God for the nation of Israel?

This is part of a series of articles about premillennial teaching. To see a list of all the articles, please click here

This material is also available for sale as part of our professionally printed book The Kingdom of Christ: Future Earthly Millennium or Present Spiritual Reality? For more information go to www.lighttomypath.net/sales.

Introduction:

Premillennial doctrine commonly states that God has never completely fulfilled His promises to Abraham regarding the future of his descendants the nation of Israel. They claim Israel never fully inherited Canaan, so this must be accomplished in the millennium after Jesus returns. Jesus will reign as earthly king in Palestine, and fleshly Israel will again be God's favored nation.

"Passages of the Old Testament ... anticipating a future day of glory for Israel find their fulfillment in the millennial reign of Christ. The regathering of Israel, a prominent theme of most of the prophets, has its purpose realized in the re-establishment of Israel in their ancient land. Israel as a nation is delivered from her persecutors in the time of tribulation and brought into the place of blessing and restoration" - Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom, p. 303 (via Miller, p. 207).

"The Gentiles will be Israel's servants during that age ..." - Pentecost, Things to Come, p. 508 (via Miller, p. 207).

"The promise of complete and everlasting possession of the land is to be fulfilled in the future millennial kingdom and will issue in possessions in the eternal new earth" - Walvoord, Millennial Kingdom, p. 157 (via McGuiggan & Jordan, slide #133).

"Israel's day of glory is yet to come and the Christ will reign on earth" - Walvoord, Millennial Kingdom, p. 206,207 (via McGuiggan & Jordan, slide #192).

This is why premillennialists are fascinated by current events in Israel. Radio and TV preachers repeatedly refer to events in Israel because they believe these events are signs Jesus is about to return and begin this millennial reign.

Interestingly, we will see that these views are virtually identical to the views of Jews, ancient and modern. Every argument used to disprove the views of Jews regarding their future, can also be used to disprove the views of premillennialists.

Note: This study is part of a series of studies relating to the premillennial view of the kingdom. Frequently this study will refer to other of the studies in the series. To understand the whole picture, and especially to see the other articles that we refer to from time to time, please see the links at the end of this study.


I. God's Purposes for Fleshly Israel Have Been Completely Fulfilled.


Genesis 12:1-3,7 - God's promises to Abraham regarding his descendants had three parts:

1. They would be made into a great nation (v2), numbered like the stars or sand (22:17).
2. His seed would receive the land of Canaan (vv 5,7).
3. In him all families of the earth would be blessed (v3).

These promises were repeated to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [13:14-17; chap. 15; 22:15-18; 26:1-15; 28:3,4; Exodus 6:4-8]. Observe the fulfillment of these promises.

A. Fulfillment of the Land and Nation Promises

Abraham's descendants did become a great nation.

Exodus 1:7 - The children of Israel so multiplied in Egypt that "the land was filled with them." This is why Egypt feared them (v9). [Acts 7:17]

1 Kings 3:7,8; 4:20 - In Solomon's day, Israel was as numerous as the sands of the sea, too numerous to count.

They received the land of Canaan - all the land God promised.

Joshua 21:43,45 - God gave Israel all the land He had sworn to the fathers. They possessed it and dwelt in it. Nothing failed of all God had promised. All came to pass. [See also Josh. 11:23; 23:14; Cf. Deuteronomy 19:7-10 to Joshua 20:1-9]

Genesis 15:18-21 describes the boundaries of the promised land (from the River of Egypt to the great river Euphrates) and names the nations to be defeated. The boundaries of Solomon's rule fulfill this promise (1 Kings 4:21), and the named nations were all subjugated (Nehemiah 9:7,8).

In doing this "God performed His word for He is righteous." This was spoken specifically in reference to keeping the promise to Abraham. [Cf. 2 Chronicles 9:26; 2 Samuel 8:3]

Some argue that these promises were NOT fulfilled

Some claim the land was never given to Abraham.

They say Genesis 17:8 promised that it would be given to him and to his seed after him.

True, Abraham did not personally and literally receive it (Acts 7:4,5; Hebrews 11:9). But if this is to be taken literally, then Abraham would have to be raised and inherit the land first, before Israel does. Yet Acts 7:17 indicates the time of fulfillment "drew near" when Israel was about to leave Egypt.

Compare the language to 1 Samuel 15:28 which says the kingdom would be taken from Saul and given to another, but this was fulfilled, not during Saul's lifetime, but to his descendants after he died. Likewise, Abraham received the land, not personally, but in that it happened to his descendants.

Others say Israel did not possess the land "forever" (or "everlasting") as promised in Genesis 17:8.

"Forever" means throughout the age, as long as God so wills it, an indefinite time period. Many other things were said to be "forever," yet they ceased: Genesis 17:13; Deuteronomy 15:17; Exodus 12:14f; Numbers 25:13. (See notes on next section.)

B. The Restoration to the Land

The land promise was conditional. Israel had to be obedient to continue in the land.

Deuteronomy 29:25-28 - If Israel forsook the covenant and worshiped other gods, God would root them out of the land and cast them into another land.

Jeremiah 25:8-11 - Israel did disobey, so God said He would send Nebuchadnezzar to desolate the land and take the people to Babylon 70 years.

[Cf. Joshua 23:14-16; Jeremiah 19:7-12; 18:1-10; Deuteronomy 8:19,20]

God promised, nevertheless, a return to the land after the captivity.

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 - When Israel returned to keeping the commands Moses gave (v2), God would return them from captivity (v3) to dwell in Canaan (v5). This obedience required keeping the commands "written in this book of the law" (v10,8).

Jeremiah 29:10 - After serving 70 years in Babylon, they would return.

Note: The return was conditioned on their obeying the Law of Moses. Therefore, the return must have been accomplished before Jesus died on the cross and removed the old law. For this to be fulfilled in the millennium would require the Old Testament to be binding then!

The promise of the return was fulfilled during the Medo-Persian empire.

2 Chronicles 36:17-23 - Babylon came and took the people captive as Jeremiah prophesied (v17-21). But Cyrus decreed the people could return, as Jeremiah likewise prophesied (v22,23). [Cf. Ezra 1:1-3; Nehemiah 1:8-10. Note that the rest of these books record the fulfillment of the return. Cf. Isaiah 10:20-22; Hag 2:2]

New Testament writers are the only inspired interpreters of Old Testament prophecy. Where do they ever hold out hope of a national return of physical Jews to Canaan after the New Testament was written? If it is true, surely some New Testament writer speaks of it. Where is it? If it is not there, then the premillennial interpretation must be wrong.

Premillennialists claim that the land promise to Abraham was never fulfilled and that the promised restoration never occurred. Such a view contradicts direct statements of Scripture and implies (no doubt, unintentionally) that God has not kept His word.

C. The Blessing on All Nations

This promise was spiritually fulfilled in Jesus.

Galatians 3:8,16,24-29 (Acts 3:25,26) - "In you all the nations shall be blessed" was a prediction that Gentiles would be justified by faith (v8). The "seed" referred to Christ (v16).

Under the gospel, Gentiles as well as Jews (all nations) can be justified by faith when they are baptized into Christ. All who do so are one in Christ. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. All are heirs according to the promise made to Abraham (v24-29).

The promised blessing was forgiveness of sins, which came through Jesus who was Abraham's seed. The blessing came through a descendant of Abraham, but the blessing itself was "upon all nations" - it was received by both Jew and Gentile.

Every promise of God to the nation of Israel has been completely fulfilled. Nothing remains except the blessing of forgiveness, and that is enjoyed equally by men of all nations. There is no more any special place of favor for Jews in God's plan.


II. Under the Gospel Both Jew and Gentile Are Blessed Equally Without Partiality.


A. Jew and Gentile Have Equal Blessings in Christ.

There is no distinction, no privileges on the basis of nationality or race.

Galatians 3:24-29

In Christ there can be neither Jew nor Gentile. All are one in Christ. All are heirs of Abraham. Hence, there is nothing special for Israelites that Gentiles cannot equally share.

Yet premillennialists say Jews will still be special heirs of Abraham and will rule over the Gentiles!

Ephesians 2:11-19; 3:6 [Colossians 3:10,11]

Gentiles were once separated from Christ, aliens from Israel, strangers from the covenant of promise, without hope and without God (vv 11,12). By Christ's blood they were made near, for He abolished the law that was a barrier between them and Jews, made peace between the two, and reconciled them both to God in one body (vv 13-16).

Gentiles are no more strangers (v12), but fellow-citizens (v19). They are fellow-heirs, fellow-members, and fellow-partakers of the promise through the gospel (v19; 3:6).

Consider the applications to premillennialists.

* They say Jesus came to establish an earthly kingdom. Had He done so, He would not have died, so the distinction between Jew and Gentile would have continued.

* They say in the millennium Jews will be favored, hence the barrier between them and Gentiles will be rebuilt!

* They say the millennium will be a time of great peace. But they wish to re-establish the very conditions that Jesus had to remove in order to establish peace!

Ephesians 4:3-6

The peace and unity between Jew and Gentile is here further described. This unity includes one hope of our calling. Both Jew and Gentile have the same hope, not different hopes.

Premillennialists violate this passage because they have more than one hope: Jews hope for a position in the millennium that Gentiles cannot attain.

Premillennialism is a system of glorified, whitewashed, religious racism. All such is opposed to the gospel. Jesus died to remove it, yet premillennialism opposes the death of the Master and seeks to rebuild what He died to remove!

[Matthew 21:33-43; Acts 10:34,35; 15:9,11; Romans 1:16; 2:11; Galatians 5:15f; Titus 3:9; 1 Timothy 1:3,4; Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; Luke 24:47; Philippians 3:3-8]

B. The Only Hope for Jews Is To Accept the Gospel in This Life.

Premillennialism teaches that there will be mass conversions of Jews associated with the millennium. There may be variations, but the teachings often imply Jews will have an opportunity for salvation after death, or that they will have more favorable opportunities for salvation than do Gentiles.

The Scriptures teach that the conditions of salvation are the same for Jews and Gentiles

Acts 10:34,35 - God shows no partiality. In every nation whoever fears and obeys Him will be accepted. This was spoken at the first Gentile conversion (Cornelius), and clearly means Jew and Gentile are accepted on the same basis.

Acts 15:9,11 - Peter later referred to the conversion of Cornelius saying God made no distinction between us (Jews) and them (Gentiles). Both were saved in the same manner, their hearts being cleansed by faith.

Mark 16:15,16 - The gospel should be preached to the whole world, all nations (Jew and Gentile - Matthew 28:18). The conditions of forgiveness are the same for all. [Luke 24:47]

Acts 13:45,46 - Paul told Jews (v16) that remission and justification were for all who would believe (vv 38,39). When Jews rejected this, Paul said they judged themselves unworthy of eternal life. There was no offer of another chance after death nor a favored position in the millennium. They would be eternally lost.

Some claim Romans 11:26 shows a favored position for Israel - "So all Israel will be saved."

* This verse nowhere mentions a future earthly reign of Christ nor any exalted position of Jews in that kingdom. Nor does it say Jews would be given an opportunity after Jesus' return or after death to obey the gospel.

* Such doctrine would contradict all the passages listed above.

* 9:1-3; 10:1-3 - Paul was deeply grieved because the Jews rejected the gospel. Why be so grieved if they were going to be saved after Jesus returns anyway?

* 10:8-17 - To be saved men must have faith which comes by hearing the word (vv 8-11,14,17). In this "there is no distinction between Jew and Greek" (v12).

* 11:20-23 - Whether one is rewarded or cut off depends on his belief or unbelief, regardless of whether he is Jew or Gentile.

* "So" in 11:26 is an adverb of manner, describing how Israel will be saved. It does not mean "then" all Israel will be saved.

How will they be saved? "As it is written." There would be a deliverer (Jesus) to take away their sins according to the covenant (the gospel) (v27).

But what is written in the covenant? Just as we have studied above: God shows no partiality but will save all men, Jew and Gentile, on the basis of obedient faith during their earthly life.

Hence, the point is that salvation is available to "all Israel" on the same basis it is available to all others. It does not mean all will accept it. But it is available to all, this is the means by which all can be saved, and all who are saved will be saved in this way.

* Romans 1:16 - The gospel is the power of God to save all who believe, Jew and Gentile. Those who do not obey will be punished when Jesus returns (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10).

C. The True Israel Today is a Spiritual Nation (the Church) Composed of All People, Jew or Gentile, Who Obey the Gospel.

All are equal in Christ. Physical Israel was important in God's plan, but as such they have no special advantages now. But God does have an Israel - a nation belonging to Him.

Galatians 3:24-29 - All who obey the gospel are in Christ and heirs of Abraham. Whether physically Jews or Gentiles, they are spiritually Abraham's descendants. [Galatians 3:7]

Romans 2:28,29 - True Jews are not those who have outward fleshly circumcision, but those who are Jews inwardly by circumcision of the heart. [Cf. Philippians 3:3-8; Colossians 2:11,12]

1 Peter 2:9 - God today has an elect race, a holy nation. These are people who belong to Him now, though they did not at one time (v10). Who are they?

They are the ones who obey Him and live holy lives (1:13-16), believe and were redeemed by Jesus' blood (1:17-21), purify their souls and are born again by obeying the truth (1:22-25), and are living stones in God's spiritual house (2:1-8), which is the church (1 Timothy 3:15).

God's spiritual nation of Israel today is His spiritual house, the church! All fleshly Jews can be part of that house, but so can all Gentiles. Jews will have no more special privileges. [Matthew 21:33-43]


III. The Premillennial Hope for an Earthly, Jewish Kingdom Is Rank Judaism, Contrary to God's Purpose.


By "Judaism" we mean a determined emphasis on an earthly kingdom ruled by a great Jew with special favor for fleshly Jews over Gentiles, just like Jews have hoped for since before the first century. First century Jews insisted on this kingdom, and both Modern Jews and modern premillennialists seek for the same.

A. God Never Really Wanted Israel to Have a Visible, Earthly King Even in the Old Testament.

1 Samuel 8:7

God had been the Israelites' king (spiritually), ruling from heaven by means of His revealed laws. When they insisted on having a earthly king (v5), God allowed it, but said they were rejecting Him as their king.

Now premillennialists want us to believe that God's plan all along has been to have a great earthly king. This is their exalted ideal of utopia, God's greatest hope for mankind! But God never wanted it before, why would He want it now?

In truth we now have an invisible, spiritual King just like Old Testament Israel had. To insist on an earthly king is to reject the spiritual King just like Israel did.

The premillennial dream is a return to apostasy! They are exactly like Jews have always been.

Jeremiah 22:24-30

God had allowed Israel to have a king, though warning of the dangers. When the nation went into apostasy, God removed the kings.

Sending Coniah (footnote: "Jeconiah") into captivity, God warned all the earth: "none of his descendants shall prosper, sitting on the throne of David, and ruling anymore in Judah." No descendant of Jeconiah would rule anymore on the throne of David in Judah!

But Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah (Matthew 1:11,12,16) and rightful heir to David's throne. But He cannot reign on that throne in Judah - not now or ever. Yet that is exactly what premillennialism says He will do!

He now reigns on David's throne, but in heaven, not in Judah. He is an invisible King like God always wanted.

Hosea 13:11

God gave Israel a king in His anger and took him away in His wrath. From beginning to end God never wanted Israel to have an earthly king. It made Him angry when they wanted one, and in anger He removed that king when they went into apostasy.

Further He promised they would never have another earthly king. He intended all along for them to have a spiritual King and that is exactly what we now have. In their doctrine about Israel, premillennialists have mirrored Judaism. Their great dream is to restore that which God never wanted and took away in wrath.

B. First-Century Jews Again Wanted an Earthly King.

John 6:15 - They wanted to take Jesus by force and make Him king - not a spiritual king, but one put in power by force. [See earlier lesson; Luke 19:11; 17:20,21; 23:2; Acts 1:6; Matthew 16:13-28; 21:1-9; 22:41-46.]

Premillennialists say Jesus came intending to be an earthly king, but could not because the Jews rejected Him. But an earthly king was exactly what they wanted, so why would they reject Him? Premillennialists want us to believe the Jews rejected Jesus despite the fact He wanted to be exactly what they wanted Him to be!

Acts 26:6,7; 28:20 - Years after Jesus had been rejected by Jews, Paul said he was still preaching the hope of Israel, the hope of the promise made by God to the fathers. God's plan had not changed.

Paul preached the kingdom of God as predicted in the Old Testament (28:23), but Jews still rejected it just as they had in Jesus' day (v25-28). Jews were looking for an earthly kingdom, but they rejected what Paul preached about the kingdom. Hence, Paul was not preaching an earthly kingdom!

Premillennialism is looking for the same thing Jews have been looking for, ever since before Jesus came. And they are still rejecting what Paul and Jesus preached about the kingdom just like the Jews did!

Conclusion

God never wanted an earthly king in the Old Testament, and He never intended Jesus to be an earthly king. Premillennialists have been wrong about this in exactly the same ways Jews have been wrong.

Premillennialism is rank racism and Judaism. It rejects God's plan for the nation of Israel and rejects God's plan for the King of Israel. Its golden dream is to institute that which God has always opposed.

This is part of a series of articles about premillennial teaching. To see a list of all the articles, please click here

(C) Copyright 12/78, 4/95, 7/04 David E. Pratte
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Topics for further Bible study

(Click for more information. Use your "back" key to return here.)

Premillennialism & Jesus' Kingdom
Does Jesus Reign as King & Priest?
Does Jesus' Kingdom Now Exist?
Is Jesus' Church the Same as His Kingdom?
Is Jesus' Kingdom Earthly or Spiritual?
What Is God's Plan for the Future of Israel?
The Second Coming of Jesus
Millennium, Rapture, Matt. 24, Rev. 20 & Jesus' Return
Predictions of the Gospel & Jesus' Death

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