Why Proof Texting Has Its Limitations: Zionism #10

Cherry picking verses out of the Bible to support a particular view is easy. But how does that verse fit within "whole counsel of God" in Scripture? (Acts 20:27)

Cherry picking verses out of the Bible to support a particular view is easy. But how does that verse fit within the “whole counsel of God” in Scripture? (Acts 20:27)

Previously, we were discussing what the New Testament has to say about the land promise. It would appear that from a straight forward reading of Romans 4:13 that Paul is redefining the promise of the land to include, not just the physical nation of Israel in the Middle East, but rather the entire world would to be promised to both redeemed Jew and Gentile!

What an expansion of the original Abrahamic land promise! Yet as it turns out, it is very difficult to decide debates like this simply on the basis of citing a few Bible quotations. The temptation, one that I have often given into at times myself, is to cherry pick a favorite passage of the Bible, hold that up as “proof,” but failing to consider the possibility that other passages of the Bible might shed more light on my cherry picked verse. Let me show you what I mean.
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The Promise of the Land in the New Testament: Zionism #9

Is the secular nation state of Israel a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Veracity tackles a "hot potato."

Israel, the land, in the New Testament.

While the Old Testament has numerous references to the promise of the Land, the New Testament, in comparison, is somewhat sparse. Nevertheless, we do find passages that touch on this, even if indirectly.

For example, after the resurrection and just prior to His ascension to heaven, the disciples asked a loaded question:

Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6b)

If there was ever a golden time for Jesus to address the question of the land promise, now that the Messiah had come, it would have been then. Like most Jews of the day, these early Jewish followers of Jesus were probably expecting Jesus to establish His Kingship, boot the Romans and other pagans out of the Holy Land, and setup shop in Jerusalem at any moment. But Jesus appears to sidestep the question, before he disappears from the disciples’ presence.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

He tells his disciples not to worry about the “when” question. Nevertheless, we are left with some questions that concerns us: What is meant by this restoration of the kingdom to Israel? Is the land promise, going back to the Old Testament, included, and is it still in effect? Will Jesus, someday physically rule over a restored national Israel?1

Interestingly, Jesus redirects their focus. He tells them to be witnesses for Jesus in Israel, but not only in Israel. They are to be witnesses through the whole world. This is not about establishing a worldwide Jewish theocracy. It is about a spiritual kingdom. But does this rule out a physical, literal Jewish kingdom in the Holy Land? Not necessarily. But is Jesus confirming their expectations for a physical literal Jewish kingdom? Not necessarily either. Perhaps we need to look at another passage to find a clearer answer.
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Announcement: Romans 9-11 Panel Discussion!

Is the secular nation state of Israel a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Veracity tackles a "hot potato."

Is there a future for ethnic, national Israel?

If you are in the Williamsburg, Virginia area next Sunday night (August 28) and the following Sunday night (September 4), I invite you to attend a panel discussion on Romans 9-11 sponsored by the Williamsburg Community Chapel and the folks here at the Veracity blog.

I have been living in Romans 9-11 for over a year now, and it has been a challenging study. Questions about predestination and human free will are addressed by the Apostle Paul in these chapters, but the central and most intriguing theme concerns God’s plans and purposes for Israel.

Is there a future for ethnic, national Israel? Or should we think of the church, Jewish and Gentile believers together, as the spiritualized, contemporary embodiment of true Israel today?

Come and hear our panelists, all pastors at the Williamsburg Community Chapel, discuss this important topic: Hunter Ruch, Doug Bunn, Rich Sylvester, Wes White and Claude Marshall. I will serve as the moderator for our discussion.

  • Williamsburg Community Chapel, 3899 John Tyler Highway, Williamsburg, VA 23185
  • Student Ministries Worship Room
  • Sundays, August 28 and September 4, 6:30 – 8:00 pm

The Promise of the Land in the Old Testament: Zionism #8

Is the secular nation state of Israel a fulfillment of Bible prophecy? Veracity tackles a "hot potato."

Israel, the land, in the Old Testament.

Picking up from where we left off a few weeks ago….

When we read the Old Testament, it becomes quite clear that the ancient Jewish people, Israel, were given a promise of a homeland. An early figure in the Bible, Abram (or Abraham), was unilaterally called by God to leave his former home, back when he was still a moon worshipper, to settle in this patch of real estate in the Middle East, where he could worship the one true God. This God would give Abraham and his descendants a claim to this land.

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3 ESV)

And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. And he said to him, “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” (Genesis 15:5-7 ESV)

Not only that, but many understand this claim to the land to be permanent:

And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-8 ESV)

Some say that Joshua’s conquest of the land of Canaan fulfilled the promise in this covenant (Joshua 21:43-45). Throughout history, and to this day, there have always existed at least some Israelites who have inhabited the land.

Others say that Joshua’s conquest of Canaan only partially fulfilled the land promise. But however one understands the outcome of Joshua’s conquest, the unconditional character of the land promise stands out. However, the ability for Israel to actually stay in the land, paradoxically, did have conditions placed on it. This paradox has puzzled readers of the Bible for centuries.1
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William and Mary, Confederate Memory, Faith, and the Power of Symbols

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16 ESV)

The College of William and Mary will replace a plaque commemorating Confederate soldiers, formerly on display at the Wren Building, with a new plaque remembered W&M students who fought on both sides of the Civil War.

The College of William and Mary will replace a plaque commemorating Confederate soldiers, formerly on display at the Wren Building, with a new plaque remembering W&M students and faculty who fought on both sides of the Civil War.

W. Taylor Reveley III, president of the College of William and Mary, announced recently, that a plaque remembering Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War, and Confederate emblems on the school’s mace, will be removed, placed in the school’s library, and replaced by a new plaque and emblems, respectively. For a full FAQ on what the school has done, read the official press release and FAQ.

If you visit various news websites, you will find a number of heated discussions in the comments sections, ranging from why the Civil War was fought (was it about slavery or states rights?) to our American racist past (are we burying our history, or are we moving on from a terrible blot on our past?). I know that many people find history “boring,” which is something I do not understand. The importance of history is bound up in how we are to remember the past, informing how we understand the power of symbols, in how we live day to day today, as well as the type of values we carry with us into the future.

I do not want to focus on these historical debates here, but I do want to back up a bit and address a general theme as a Christian: symbols matter to people, their meanings change, and these symbols do not always mean the same thing to everyone. Continue reading


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