By Ron Cantor
CAN GOD BLESS AN UNBELIEVING ISRAEL?
Dr. Burge shifts gears. He wants to establish that the coming of Messiah was decisive, meaning that only in Him can one now enjoy God’s favor and blessing. What Burge fails to comprehend is that just breathing is a result of the grace of God. Waking up in the morning is due to God’s mercy. Every human is blessed in some way by God—outside of explicit faith in Yeshua.
God’s promise to never again flood the world is enjoyed by the most despicable heathens alive. God’s grace on the unbeliever is undeniable. And if that is true, why then, for His own reasons and purposes, can God not put his favor upon (still) unbelieving Israel?
OH, THE DEPTH OF THE RICHES…
When in Romans eleven Paul outlines God’s plan to reattach the Jewish branches en masse to the olive tree in the last days (as Hosea predicted 3:4-5), he gets so excited at the wisdom of God’s plan—to use Israel to reach the nations, and then the nations to, in turn, reach Israel by “provoking her to jealousy” (v. 11) – so that Israel “too may now receive mercy as a result of God’s mercy to [the Gentiles],” (v. 31)—resulting in “greater riches” (v.12) and “life from the dead” (v. 15) for the world, that he has to stop and simply praise God!
Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom andknowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen. (v. 33-36)
Those who embrace Replacement Theology miss out on Paul’s joy here. It is a marvelous and yet mysterious plan. Paul would say to both Augustine and all those who have believed that the Church has replaced Israel before and after him:
For, brothers, I want you to understand this truth which God formerly concealed but has now revealed, so that you won’t imagine you know more than you actually do. It is that stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Israel, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Israel will be saved. (Rom. 11:25-26a)
Burge seems to acquiesce to the fact that Paul does promise future blessing to natural Israel—but only after the Second Coming, when they embrace Yeshua. And even then, he claims all the Land promises have been fulfilled in the Church.
THE BURDEN IS ON REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY
They often ask, “Where does the New Testament affirm that the Land is still promised?” But they have the question backwards. The burden of proof is on them to show where the New Testament repudiates God’s promise to restore the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. The status quo as the New Testament narrative begins is that the prophets predict Israel’s restoration to her land. Show me where it is explicitly written that God has changed his mind?
Peter in his sermon in Acts three affirms the Abrahamic Covenant—without qualifications, such as taking away the land—to his yet unbelieving audience:
You are the sons of the prophets; and you are included in the covenant which God made with our fathers when he said to Abraham, ‘By your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed.’ So it is to you first that God has sent his servant whom he has raised up, so that he might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways. (Acts 3:25-26)
However the most powerful passage that confirms God is still faithful to Israel comes just after Paul tells Gentile believers that there is absolutely no value in circumcision. Many have taken his words in Romans 2 as a denunciation of Judaism, Jewish circumcision and the physical Covenant of Abraham. But if they would just keep reading four verses into the next chapter, they would see that the Covenant of Abraham to natural Israel is still very much in tact:
What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God. What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness? Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar. (Rom. 3:1-4a CJB)
It is as if Paul wrote these very words for people like Dr. Burge, who might not be able to understand how God could bless natural Israel in her unfaithful state.
Ron Cantor is the Executive Pastor of Tiferet Yeshua in Tel Aviv. For more information go to www.ReachTelAviv.org.