Aug 312016
 

Flag-of-Israel-2015-04-08“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 12:2-3

We have seen these verses referenced many times.  Often in the appeal that we need to support Israel.  Who the “we” is that is supposed to support Israel is not always clarified. 

But the implication would seem to be that it would include the United States, all other countries, the Church, and all individuals, especially Christians.  So essentially, everybody and everything under the sun.

As to who is “Israel”, the implication if not outright specification is the modern day nation of Israel.  Additionally, the implication frequently seems to include any person of Jewish ethnicity, especially those who are practicing the Jewish religion.  Maybe even include those who aren’t ethnically Jewish but are practicing Jews.  And let’s throw in Messianic Judaism just to complicate the subject even further.

But I don’t want to get caught up in those details.  I do not subscribe to the notion that “we” have some sort of current biblical, spiritual, or moral requirement to support “Israel”.  I am more inclined to believe that the heirs of the promises of blessing given to Abraham are those who have faith in God, specifically in Jesus Christ.  And the heirs are not necessarily ethnic Jews.  Several passages in the New Testament such as Romans 9:6-8, Galatians 3:6-14, and John 8:39-47 would seem to indicate this.

I do believe that God still has significant plans for Israel and Jewish people in the lead up to and fulfillment of His Second Coming.  So I don’t see God being completely done with the Jewish people as some may.  Perhaps this all leads some to believe that I’m just a confused theological jumble when it comes to Israel.     

Now this is what I believe, but it is not a hill on which I’m going to die.  I will let the heavyweights with much deeper theological and educational knowledge battle it out – clashes over the minutiae of the covenant(s) with Israel in the Old Testament and what was/is conditional or unconditional and what exactly has already been fulfilled or yet to come.  I would not have the depth and breadth of expertise on these subjects to hold court.

One of my big concerns, however, is when those who believe we still need to support Israel apply it wholeheartedly and indiscriminately to the current modern day nation of Israel.

This is what I just don’t get.  The modern manifestation of the nation of Israel is a secular state.  It is not a theocracy.  It is not being ruled by God nor following after Him.  Even more, the large, large majority of the people who make up the nation of Israel reject God because they reject Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.  In the Old Testament, many times when the Jewish people disobeyed God they brought judgment upon themselves and lost their land and freedoms and blessings.  And so, why would there be a requirement on us to support such a current state?

Now from a moral standpoint, I think we should support (or oppose) any country based on the justness or righteousness of their actions.  Or in how unjustly they may get treated by others and are in need of backing or protection.  With all the evil and chaos that engulfs the Middle East, although they are far from blameless, it would appear that supporting modern day Israel in various manners would be the proper thing to do.

Carrying this into a political perspective, it would seem to be an astute idea for the United States to keep Israel as an ally and support her as we can and as is appropriate.  Both from a moral standpoint and for what is best for our country from a global political perspective.

What I just don’t get is those who preach that we must support this current state of Israel just because it is Israel.  That we must support the nation 100% in all matters.  That we will bring judgment upon our own nation (or church or individual) if we do not.  And God forbid if we would ever consider a two state solution.

Again, I ask, why must we be unconditionally supportive of a secular state whose people largely reject God?  Because when we do, we very well may be forsaking righteousness in other ways.

For instance, I earlier referred to Israel as being worthy of support in many manners, but still not blameless.  What about those times when Israel is in the wrong.  When they mistreat Palestinians or others, sometimes even Christians.  Do we say they are right to do whatever they want and we will support them because they are Israel?  What if we believe that some form of a two state solution could help bring a level of peace to the people and reduce unnecessary and immoral violence?  What about “blessed are the peacemakers”?  Do we reject out of hand any possible thought of a two state solution because, Israel?

What if the promise to support Israel is the tipping point for some to support an immoral political plan or politician?  Is this right?  What about when judgments are cast that some calamity happened because the victims of said calamity didn’t support Israel?  What about when one seems to be more concerned with getting a Jewish person back to their “homeland” than they are with their salvation?  And what about when, as I once observed, a co-worker verbally and emphatically attacks another co-worker with charges of blasphemy and heresy when the other co-worker (who is of a Egyptian Christian heritage) says he doesn’t think we need to support Israel?  Is this moral and righteous behavior?

Again, I am sure there are many who could take me to task because I am a theological lightweight on the subject.  I could not write a thorough and cogent dissertation on the covenants of God with Israel in the Old Testament, including how it all relates to today.  But there are what I see as some disturbing unhealthy excesses on this subject.  And I bring them up for our care and consideration.  Maybe somebody can explain the rationale more comprehensibly as to why we need to be exceedingly supportive of this modern actualization of Israel.

Lord, help us to stay vigilant in our words and actions as we consider a subject such as this and work through our theological agreements and disagreements. 

  72 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: What About Israel?”

  1. Kevin, what you have written is pretty much how I feel about the topic. Good job!

  2. Thanks Kevin. So many of your thought have resonated with me for a long time. Jews are not saved. If they die in their unbelief their fate is the same as any unbeliever. I’m off to the store but I hope this could be a thread where Evangelicals are free to explain their position so this could be edifying for all. Thanks once again and great timing!

  3. This is really well done…

  4. What is interesting to me is that five years ago Kevin would have had his head taken off by now.
    The acceptance of the old line on Israel is changing along with the move away from pre trib eschatology..

  5. Thanks for the kind words so far. And yes, I like to keep my head. Hard to function without one. 🙂

  6. Israel = the people of God as in ‘The people of God once called Israel now called The Church.’

    But I do think that the modern day nation of Israel is to be supported as an ally with similar interests in the Middle East. However, they do need to have their feet held to the fire for their treatment of the Palestinians. (and it is not enough to say that the Palestinians are treated better in Israel than in the other surrounding nations. If they are still treated as 2nd class citizens, then it must stop … at least while they receive American money)

  7. Well said, Kevin.This is a tough topic. On the one hand, we still have rabid Antisemitism that occurs far too often in our world. On the other hand, we have folks who turn all Israelis and Jews into honorary saints with their own special pass into heaven that doesn’t involve Jesus.

    I’ve had far more interaction with that second crowd, including those Christians who are infatuated with trying to recreate Jewish customs and feasts as a way to return to some fictional “golden era” where the whole land serves God. (The kinds of folks who try to cut Galatians out of their Bible.) That seems to be more of a reaction to Modernity than a right interpretation of Scripture. Fundamentalism in any religion is usually brought on by a reaction to Modernity.

    I would love to see a study that looked at various beliefs held by Christians. Put the stats into a Venn Diagram, and I think there would be significant overlap of the groups who believe in Young Earth Creation, Modern Patriarchy, Rejection of Evolution, Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and Modern-Israel Lovers.

  8. Yes, let’s go back to the good old days of Israel – when God used to open the earth and swallow up the people. 🙂

  9. Israel – Nation state located in the Middle East. Granted statehood by the UN in 1948.

    As a nation Israel should be supported as an ally of America. They have elections, free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion.

  10. Eric, I think you are on to something. When I left the evangelical world, the first thing to go, of course, was pre-millennialism. After that, a normalized view of Israel soon followed. And now I feel freed up to believe that a literal six-day creation 5000 years ago may not be the only interpretation of Genesis that honors God. (I was never into that patriarchy business but I knew plenty who were.)

    I knew an ex-CC pastor who told me that denying the Dispensationalist view of the role of modern Israel was the Great Apostasy. I told him that was the craziest thing I ever heard.

  11. “I knew an ex-CC pastor who told me that denying the Dispensationalist view of the role of modern Israel was the Great Apostasy. I told him that was the craziest thing I ever heard.”

    And then he pointed to the white spaces on the Bible page and said ‘see, it is plain as day right here.’ 😉

  12. Thanks Kevin,

    Why indeed?
    Why do Christians support a state that suppresses the expression of our own faith?
    Why do Christians support Israel while turning deaf ears to their Christian brethren in Palestine?
    Why co Christians support the destabilizing of every nation around Israel which always results in turning Christian communities into refugees and ensconcing radicals?
    Why do Christians practice flimsy exegesis to justify evil geopolitics?
    Why do Christians treat Jewish people like a religious fetish to appease God?
    One reason is always worth examining… the economics of the matter. It has become a marketable show.

    Now let’s make this easy… Ask the people who tell you that to curse Israel brings a curse on you … do this directly. Ask them who can you curse and garner a blessing. The last time I checked we are not in the cursing business. But I am often wrong…

  13. Okay, I am sure there are some out there who read this and balked at the things I had to say about Israel. I say this not in a baiting or hostile fashion, but I would like to hear from those who believe we need to be more supportive of Israel than what I wrote. I would like to hear lucid and reasoned arguments for why we should. I say this because all I usually hear on the subject is that we have to support Israel because it’s Israel along with the quotation of a couple Bible verses such as the one I cited at the beginning of my article. But no substance beyond that. I truly would like to better comprehend, but I need to be given something with more meat. Unlikely as it may be that I would agree, I would at least like to gain greater understanding.

  14. And Michael states that his stance on immigration earns him some haters.

    I think people who state what you you just did will hit far more disdain than those who advocate for immigrants, refugees and immigration.

    I hope for your sake that I am wrong.

  15. I think the lack of pushback reflects a trend I’ve seen where the tradition that has demanded unthinking support of Israel is weakening.
    Whenever we have MLD or BD explain the view that God’s people are the new Israel,I get a lot of positive response offline.
    I’ve also had many from CC investigating the theology….mainly due to this blog and the influence of N.T. Wright.

    Nothing will compare to the heat and hate you get from supporting immigration reform…trust me on that.

  16. I started questioning pretribulationism, and the first place I went to was my concordance. As I study concept after concept, the tapestry began to unravel.

    I could draw a graph of what I believe, or what I think the bible concludes, but I sure can poke a bunch o holes in what I’ve heard ad nauseum.

  17. JTK,

    I think that is the experience of many who look at the pretrib set up honestly.

    Now, I find myself agreeing much with Kevin…the people of God are the new Israel…but Romans 11 says not to be too hasty disposing with old Israel.

    It’s not either/or it’s both/and…

  18. Hard to say for sure. Israel becoming a nation in 1948 seems to fulfill a prophecy, but it was kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy as Truman was an Evangelical End Times type and pretty much forced that issue.

    I support Israel as a nation b/c they are a democracy and compatible with Western Culture and an ally of the USA and generally peaceful acting only in self defense.

    As far as Israel being favored by God or something like that, I don’t think it works that way, at least it sure doesn’t seem to. Israel seems to catch a lot of shiite vs. being blessed a lot.

    As far as those supporting Israel today as being more blessed than others, that doesn’t seem to be the case either, as the USA is in decline since 1948 and especially since the early 70’s. We reached Peak America in 2007 during Bush II and now we’re bankrupt owing $20 Trillion in US Debt by the time Obama leaves office.

    Dunno, it’s probably a “both” as Michael says….Israel as a nation and then as all of God’s people both Jew and grafted in Gentile?

    Not really an important issue unless you are addicted to the endless End Times prognostications and reading of tea leaves.

  19. I just don’t see where Romans 11 speaks of any of the old promises to Israel. Paul says “I ask, then,has God rejected his people?”

    The reply is no, they have not been rejected – they too, as in also, can become followers of Jesus – they are grafted back in. There is nothing that says they will be ‘the old Israel’ as before. They too will be known as The Church or whatever future name may describe the Church.

    In fact what is in store for the Jews as they live out these last days is the same as what was given to me – a Jew given a chance to become a Christian, just as Paul spoke about in Romans 11.

    The Apostles Paul, Peter, me and Marty Goetz are all Romans 11 Israel.

  20. MLD makes a lot of sense with that.

  21. I went back and reread Romans 9-11 a couple of times and am now convince (probably more convinced than ever) this is a good place to show how rapture theology especially as presented by the dispensationalists have totally screwed up the Bible for the past couple of generations.

    Going back to Thessolonians where these people say that Paul is explaining the rapture to a crowd who thinks they missed it. Where do we ever see a teaching of the rapture where these folks would know enough about it to think they missed it? Now if they were asking about the resurrection and their fear that they may miss it if they are still alive (how can you have a resurrection if you are not yet dead?) then this explains what Paul is speaking of – the transformation of a living person to be resurrected – not a ‘fly away with Jesus’ sort of event.
    Now to the Romans passage – as I said earlier Paul begins 11 with the question – “I ask, then,has God rejected his people?” – would this not have been a great time for Paul to have added – “Let me tell you what God has planned for ‘His People’ once the Church is taken out in the Rapture – oh, will it be glorious days as Our Father (a hat tip to Jean’s articles 😉 ) fulfills all the promises he made to us as a people through our fathers of long ago. No fellows, God has not rejected his people.”

    That is not what it is, and at this point there is no looking back for leftover pieces that Jesus has not fulfilled in himself. The promise to Israel that Paul speaks of here is that Israel still holds the promise to come along and follow Jesus.

  22. well, if the Church is Israel and we believe that God curses those who curse Israel and blesses those who bless Israel, then the U.S. is in for a real pasting 🙁

    that said, i think, even tho it is understandable as learning has so rapidly changed the landscape – i think that we’ve missed the boat on our approach to the book of Revelation… it should be taught just as it reads, just as it progresses without interpretation, but it should bet taught to every Believer, so that there is a thorough grasp of the progression from chapter 6 on…
    to repeat myself, without speculative interpretations… as my late husband observed prophesy is intended to be crystal clear to those for whom it was intended… no need to interpret the book, just be very familiar with it and pass it on to each generation

    was Hal Lindsey doing God’s work? probably just the opposite as i’m reading so much negative reaction by those who got sucked in to the “it’s here” frenzy … for the record, i do think the Church is, at some point in time, going up – with our without our bodies 🙂

  23. Em – good to see you back online.

    “well, if the Church is Israel” – not my / our position. I will repeat — “Israel = the people of God as in ‘The people of God once called Israel now called The Church.’”

    God has always had a people – before Jesus it was called Israel and Jesus fulfilled all the promises to Israel in himself. When Jesus died on the cross he became Israel reduced to one. At the resurrection, he continued with his people and through the 12 and the other followers now has a new entity called the church – not restricted to one nationality / ethnic group but the whole world called the Church.

    How do you teach with no interpretation? The only way I know to do that is to just stand before a class and just read the text … but even there you have some interpretation by which version you choose.

    Also, what is it you see as special from chapter 6 moving forward that is not just contiguous with the chapters before and after?

    Again, good to see you back.

  24. This is the difference between Normal (aka Plain, Literal) Hermeneutics, and Allegorical (Symbolic, Non-Literal) Hermeneutics. It is the presupposition from which one approaches the scripture, and depending upon the hermeneutic employed, it will be interpreted one way or the other.

    There is value to both paths, but both have their shortcomings as well. I lean closer to the Normal reading. It just makes more sense to me.

    Israel is still God’s chosen people. I am adopted into that bloodline through Christ.

    Politically, we have one ally in the Middle East. The rest of the region wants us dead yesterday. So yes, I vote to stand by the ally.

  25. MLD,

    The problem I have with your exposition is that Paul clearly states that there has been a judicial hardening of Israel that he expects will be reversed at some later date.

  26. Josh,
    “Israel is still God’s chosen people.” – so the Church is like a step child??

    I don’t think your distinction of hermeneutics is correct.
    When John in Rev 1 looked around and says “And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, … I take it literally that he saw seven golden lampstands – my literal interpretation of Jesus’ symbolic language. And this is how I read all apocalyptic literature. The words are symbolic, allegorical – but I read them in a literal way for the genre.

    Notice that Jesus tells us that John actually saw stars and lampstands – “The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.”

  27. Michael – so how did Peter, Paul myself and Marty Goetz slip through?

    Aside from your normal Calvinism view of limited atonerment – are you saying that there are Jews today, because they are Israel, whom the Holy Spirit prevents from following Christ – prevents from being born again?

    How would you know that the time of blindness has not long since been lifted?

  28. I fail to understand what Calvinism has to do with this.
    Paul is clear that it’s a “partial” hardening and seems to point to the end of the age for it to be fully lifted.
    “Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; “and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.””
    (Romans 11:25–27 ESV)

  29. “I fail to understand what Calvinism has to do with this.’
    Under normal circumstance a Calvinist believes certain people are not called / not the elect. I wanted to talk outside of that. I want to speak specifically to Israel –

    do you think that there are certain Jews that the Holy Spirit prevents from being saved just because they are Israel?

    I take the partial blindness to be that it is harder for all Jews to see the truth through the blindness, but the blindness is not total – only partial. I take it you think the partial is some Jews are blinded and some are not.

  30. MLD at 26 – Your reading of REv. 1 is the Normal reading. You vary from that greatly in other parts of Revelation. I don’t say that disparagingly, only as a statement of fact. If one employs a Normal Hermeneutic, he will not end up with Amillenialism. Again, there is value in both, but that’s what it is.

    The church is not a step-child, but an adopted child.

  31. All I have to go on is the text…which seems to imply that some have been totally blinded.

  32. Joah,
    “The church is not a step-child, but an adopted child.”

    So the Church is now a part of Israel? This goes totally backwards.
    Whereas we used the New Testament to interpret the Old – dispensationaist use the Old to interpret the new … especially in prophecy.

    So how is my reading of Revelation in it’s entirety any different than my reading of Rev 1? I say that everything written after about 1:10 is written in symbolic and allegorical language that I read as literal to the genre?

    I see no literal language at all – so the symbolic and allegorical are all in the text -NOT in my hermeneutic. But to say that the promises and covenants to Israel were not foreshadows of Jesus’ work to come and to say Jesus has left promises unfulfilled to Israel does not add up in my view.

  33. In other words I do not see 144,000 virgin men becoming the evangelists of the world.

  34. “I see no literal language at all – so the symbolic and allegorical are all in the text -NOT in my hermeneutic.”

    That IS your hermenuetic. You approach the text with that viewpoint, and thus arrive at those conclusions. You claim “all in the text”, which millions of other read in a completely different manner. This is due to the presuppositions that they bring to the reading. Yours is typically referred to as “Allegorical Hermeneutics”, whereas the other is “Normal Hermeneutics”.

  35. “The church is not a step-child, but an adopted child.”

    Now, as for the confusion regarding this, we can start with Galations 3:29. “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”

  36. “In other words I do not see 144,000 virgin men becoming the evangelists of the world.”

    One employing a Normal Hermeneutic would disagree with you. That’s my point, not that your view is right or wrong, that’s just where it comes from. If we open our eyes to such things, we can learn from both sides.

  37. The 4 horsemen – literal?
    Stars falling into the sea – literal?
    A dragon chasing a woman across the heavens – literal?
    A beast coming out of the sea – literal?

    Tell me when I come to the literal one. John begins by saying he is seeing everything in a vision … I do not see anywhere when he comes out of his vision.

    But I do not need or use Revelation to say that Jesus is the fulfillment of Israel (someone else brought Revelation into the conversation)- Paul speaks to the fulfillment of everything to Israel – even the land promises were fulfilled as far back as Joshua.

    But I do agree, we look at scripture differently. Hey, me and the word faith guys look at scripture differently also.

  38. Yeah, MLD, you are agreeing with me. It wasn’t a knock on you. Just what it’s called, man.

  39. Well what they must mean is that the Holy Spirit was symbolic and allegorical – because I tale literally the writers symbolism and allegory.

    The lamb (allegory) did not eat a literal scroll – as a literalist would insist.;-)

  40. After all these years of study, the notion that all those things are literal is very odd to me. Very.

  41. It is just the words used to classify the schools of thought.

  42. You guys are getting stuck on the word “literal”. Go with Normal instead. Nobody is suggesting that every verse should be taken literally. Michael, this was addressed with the Chicago Statement in the 70’s. The may have used “Plain” instead of Normal, not remembering off the top of my head.

  43. Anyway, my point was not to figure out which words of Scripture should be taken literally and which should not, only pointing out why we end up in this divide.

    I think it is a worthwhile venture to constantly challenge our presuppositions that we bring to the text. First, of course, we have to acknowledge that we are in fact bringing them.

  44. “Also, what is it you see as special from chapter 6 moving forward that is not just contiguous with the chapters before and after?”

    well, John was called up to where he could observe God’s throne in heaven (4:2) and what follows is descriptive of the place – not really needing interpretation of any kind IMV, although some of us are compelled to do so… 🙂
    then chapter six really begins to describe an unfolding of events (yes, i have some opinions on seals and trumpets, but they’re just that) – i don’t see ch. 6 as separate from the following chapters, with the exception of a couple possibly parenthetical chapters which, BTW, are placed to fit right in with the progression Rev. 22:10-21
    i think it can be taught with the goal of making us familiar with the book’s contents, taking the descriptions of the sequencing of events at face value with most – not all, but most – questions that come up answered: “I don’t know…” 🙂
    course that might not make the teacher popular… more fun to assign the events to the day’s news… the itching ears syndrome?

  45. #31- twas probably me that brought up Rev’n as the whole question of how the Church should view Israel, the geographic nation today, has been colored by the end times frenzy just past

  46. I just taught Rev 4-5. If I had my way I’d skip the rest of the book and just do the last chapter. I don’t think anyone knows what the hell the rest of the book means.

  47. I think you are about right Michael. Lot of wisdom in Em’s husbands insight to prophecy.

  48. for instance:
    1-John summoned in the Spirit before God’s Throne in Heaven
    2-Lion of the Tribe of Judah… worthy to open the book with 7 seals Rev 5:5
    Rev 6:1
    3-1st 4 seals bring a Conqueror, War, Famine, Death & Hell to 1/4 of earth
    4-5th seal – white robes given to martyrs (for the Word) and told to wait for more are to be martyred
    5-6th seal – terrors, men recognize the wrath of God and try to hide
    6-then there is a pause while 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel are sealed by God
    7-a great unnumbered multitude in white robes stand before the Throne
    8-7th seal – silence in heave 1/2 hour as prayer of saints offered on golden altar
    9-angels with trumpets prepare to sound
    10-1st trumpet brings atmospheric and ecological disasters
    11-3 woes predicted
    12-star fallen from heaven releases the Destroyer
    13-1st woe (5th trumpet) – creatures released from pit hurt but not kill men for 5 months
    and so on…

    this progression of events is a great overview even without knowing whether what is raining down are real rocks from the sky (probably are), without seeing colored horses rampaging, or just what that “pit” is or who exactly comes out of it, and Satan isn’t chasing anyone across the sky that i read, but God does protect the woman and Satan then does go after the believing remnant here on the earth…
    fascinating read just as it stands without knowing what the symbols symbolize 🙂

  49. Unless the writer is telling the same story over and over again to make a point.
    Perhaps the seals, the trumpets and the bowls are the same judgment told each time with greater intensity.

    For instance – the seals in chapter 6;
    I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

    That my friends is end of the world stuff by chapter 6 – how does earth and life continue on when the sun is blotted out, when the stars (plural) fall on the earth? – does anyone doubt if one star just nicked the earth we would be toast? Heck if a star got close to earth if would yank us out of our orbit.
    And what about the sky rolling up like a scroll and the disappearance of EVERY mountain and island disappearing.

    This is the end of the world. and then it starts all over with the bowls and trumpets. The book is not in a sequential order – it is the same story told over like 6 times in revelation – it is a recapitulation from creation to destruction over and over.

    I will listen to common sense theories how life sustains after that , what was it the 6th seal and still people mount up resistance against God? Not likely

  50. I always thought it problematic that life on earth seems to continue after the star Wormwood falls into the ocean.

    But “star” in this case might mean meteor….

    Still, MLD makes a good point.

  51. Xenia – the actual wording is The Stars – plural.

    Hey, when you have a black sun, a red moon, stars falling from the sky, the atmosphere evaporating all mountains and islands disappearing – I gotta think its game over. The pont is that its the first judgment and we are only at chapter 6.

    There is no justification for anyone to think that Revelation is meant to be read in a literal or a linear sense. But as you know from your past – they insist on it.

  52. interpret it anyway you wish, however, there is no reason not to read the book in a linear fashion – just as it is written 🙂
    chapter 7 begins, “1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.”
    did old John simply mean that was the order in which he saw “these things?” if yes, then read it in the order that John saw them… then, interpret them – prayerfully – any way you wish

    my point is learn the progression first…
    next comes the 6th trumpet and the 2nd woe and still no repentance
    chapter 10 has an angel announcing that there shall be delay no longer
    and the11th chapter concludes with the 7th trumpet announcing the 3rd woe
    after the 12th chapter outlines Satan’s moves it concludes with him turning on the believing remnant (implication this takes place on earth)
    and the 13th relates what the result of that is … or just another loop, if you prefer – i don’t
    and so on … a great and very orderly progression worth mastering before going on to interpret the details IMNSHO

    God keep

  53. “interpret it anyway you wish, however, there is no reason not to read the book in a linear fashion – just as it is written”

    Well I do read it in a linear fashion, I turn the pages in order.

    “did old John simply mean that was the order in which he saw “these things?” – well I don’t think he did write in order – he may not have experienced it in order. I see that he is describing a city down in the valley (I say this metaphorically), and he scans the city from left to right describing briefly what he sees, then goes back and zeros in on a couple of geographical landmarks.

    ” then, interpret them – prayerfully – any way you wish” – no, I gave up free fall interpretation when I left evangelicalism.

  54. MLD @ 6, 19, & 23….

    It has always been an Israelite/non-Israelite issue. God’s salvation has always been available to both groups.

    The OT is littered with examples of the non-Israelite adhering to/joining with the Israelite in observance of God’s prescribed commandments, and the worship of the God of Israel.

    It really is the same game in the NT. The non-Israelite needs to join with the Israelite in observance of God’s prescribed commandments and the worship of the God of Israel.

    Ultimately, those who have faith in God/Messiah, whether Israelite or non-Israelite, are the Israel of God.

    Dragging the English word “church” into the discussion just muddies the waters, it seems.

  55. 53 – i meant the “you” in a generic sense, MLD – not you in the MLD 🙂

    i hold to my view and my ground that the book should first be learned as it is written – as God chose to record it for the ages…
    i firmly believe that any teacher’s lesson plan, after chapter 5, should begin with a mastery of the events’ progression, hopefully with a dry, but accurate handout or handouts – probably take several sessions…
    then what you proceed to do with it’s interpretation of details is between you and God…
    to bog down in teaching symbology or any other “ology” before leading the student through the overview of the whole is presumptuous at the very least… my not so humble opinion … again …

  56. Goose, you are just doing what I challenged someone else on earlier – you are trying to drag the the NT people back into the OT. It actually border on being a Judaizer. It’s funny, because the way you state it you would have me siding with the dispensationalist – Israel means Israel and the Church means the Church.

    Paul speaks of God making something new – Jew and Gentile together. Are you disagreeing with what I said earlier in response to Paul’s question – ” Paul says “I ask, then,has God rejected his people?”

    My answer was – “In fact what is in store for the Jews as they live out these last days is the same as what was given to me – a Jew given a chance to become a Christian, just as Paul spoke about in Romans 11.” Do you see a different plan of God for the Jews in answer to Paul’s question?

  57. Em,

    There are a whole series of reasons why many many interpreters do not read Revelation in a linear fashion. Among those are the many times the book clearly parallels, the obvious similarity of the 7s as they are presented, there are at least six moments that pretty clearly depict final judgment and chapter 12 alone forbids a linear explanation.

    The progressions you point to are progressions within parallel visions. The cyclical and or repetitive view does not deny a progression within the visions or a progressive advance toward a finale. It denies a progression of the visions themselves.

    I would propose that the book has more of a chiastic structure, which is common to Jewish literature. Chiastic proposes an advance to a conclusion and then a return to the premise originally stated. Ken Bailey does fabulous work with this notion.

    This is a big crux of Revelation studies. Linear will lead you into the literal trap and will lead you into futuristic traps. The book DEFINITELY has progression but not linear progression. It has repetitive, cyclical, and chiastic progression

  58. Its always strikes me in a strange way how the church doesn’t speak out against any other nation on the planet like it does Israel. I mean really, just think about it for a moment. There are a large number of nations that are committing crimes against humanity as high as the heavens. North Korea, Suadi Arabia, Sudan, Iran…I can keep going. Why all the bemoaning about people supporting Israel. I also find it peculiar that the author gives very little ‘evils’ committed by Israel. It would also be helpful if he would present a biblical case defending his view that the Jewish People of today are not included in what Spoke to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jeremiah (31)

  59. keith,

    I’m not sure where you’re getting the church speaking out so much against Israel but not doing it for other nations. In my experiences, I have seen the church speak out much more in support of Israel than those who speak against it. And for those who did speak against it, it is probably more of a reaction to those who call out for seemingly unconditional support for Israel. There are those within the church that will react to this call for unequivocal support for Israel and say, “Hold on, Israel is doing this wrong and that wrong and so we shouldn’t be supporting them in those manners. In fact, we should oppose them in those ways.” There is no need for them to make these kind of statements about other countries because there aren’t those out there in the church calling for unconditional support for North Korea or Iran, et al.

    I could spend the time investigating and listing out all the “wrongs” committed by Israel, but that wasn’t the point of the article. The point is that Israel does sometimes commit wrong (that is not debatable) and so we run into problems of unrighteousness when we want to support Israel in those wrongs or overlook them as is they don’t really matter.

    As for, “defending his view that the Jewish People of today are not included in what Spoke to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and Jeremiah” – I did not say that Jewish people weren’t included. I said the heirs of the promises given to Abraham appear to me to be those who have faith in Jesus Christ. This would include any ethnic Jew who has faith in Christ. I also said that I believe that God still has a plan for the Jewish people. So I have not cut off the Jewish people from everything spoken of in the Bible.

    But again, as I made clear in the article, I am not an expert on the subject and so I was not trying to engage in a theological debate but would readily leave that up to others who had greater study and knowledge. However, I was challenging the seemingly unconditional support that some in the church give to this modern day manifestation of the nation of Israel and asking why we should do that, especially when it may cause acts of, or support for acts of unrighteousness. In the discussion here, no one has yet to engage those questions/challenges.

  60. thank you, BD – i think that you and MLD look at the subject from a scholar’s view and, of course, i would assume that one’s approach to teaching the book doesn’t stop after an overview from chapter one thru chapter twenty-two… but …
    from this pew sitter’s experience all the charts and the symbology just came at me like a storm without a frame of reference until i took a few days alone with the book and recorded the “events” sequentially – just as written with no attempt to *interpret* anything and no details of the event beyond the location of the event… (chapters eleven and twelve dovetail right into the narrative, BTW)
    i did this 18 years ago when i still had my faculties 🙂
    now when someone references woes, or trumpets or angels or horses or seals i can look at my chart and see exactly where to look in the book for elaboration or context… this has nothing to do with a linear *interpretation* as such, rather it gives those of us without the scholastic disciplines the ability to not just drink from the fire hose, but rather to reason along with the teacher
    perhaps it is my arrogance overriding the student or my inability to learn by rote (lost that skill about 70 years ago) but what i’ve attempted to describe enabled me to put the whole of Rev’n in context – at least to some degree

  61. Well the sad part is, we Amillers don’t have any charts. Dispensationalist / Rapture theology guys (and I have seen both Adrian Rogers and David Jeremiah both teach with these giant charts in the background) – have 100s of them – all different..

    About 5-10 yrs ago Kim Riddlebarger made one up so us Amiller could say we had a chart. 😉

  62. #61 – that’s the point that i can’t seem to make here – yes, there all kinds of “charts,” so-called out there and they all attempt to interpret and illustrate the book – i found some of them very pretty and all of them very useless to me in grasping the book – they were the goad that made me ask myself, “is this book a hodgepodge of cataclysmic events meant to confuse?”
    the charting that i am speaking of is very cut and dry and it simply lists the events as they occur and does not, repeat does not in anyway try to construct, a theory or a picture of any kind – it only lists the events in the order that the book presents them and could easily fit into BD’s chiastic view without any alterations whatsoever… well chapters 11 and 12 might be a problem – dunno… but those two chapters did fit perfectly and beautifully into the flow of the narrative as i charted it… repeat, i did not attempt ANY interpretation whatsoever
    there are several ways to learn to swim – toss the kid into the pool and see if he floats, another puts water wings on the child and allows him to keep his head above water as he absorbs the basics… what i did for my purpose was to supply myself with water wings… i am able to listen to teachers and theories thoughtfully and without gasping for air as they present their viewpoints – right ones and wrong ones? most likely some of both
    enough of this, eh? 🙂

  63. Let me make it simple so everyone can throw away any and all charts – Revelation s just John’s telling of Matthew 24 & 25

  64. Yes, but certainly with more detail and more specific.

  65. #63 – just? uh uh

    charts? throw them out? okay, never saw one that was that useful, either – but i’ll keep MY chart, it took some know-how and some time and i use it all the time – you’ve never seen it 🙂

  66. Yet in neither version is there a special reckoning with the people of Israel nor is there an earthy reign of Jesus … and that is what all the charts are about.

  67. That is our understanding of it, MLD. Your understanding is different, and that’s OK.

  68. Is that your answer when discussing things with the word faith movement guys?
    When Ken Copeland says that Adam was not only in the image of God be that he was god because that is what the image of God means – just his understanding of equal value with anyone elses understanding ?

    Or Benny Hinn when he says that the Trinity is 9 persons as each person in the trinity has their own trinity? Just their understanding of equal value with anyone elses understanding?

    Personally, I would prefer to tell people they are wrong – Jesus did so. 😉

  69. Well, in many ways MLD you are wrong. I hope that makes you feel better.

    However, some of what we are talking about is speculation where there are many accepted interpretations within orthodox Christianity. I may be wrong about some of those, too.

    In those matters, which are not primary and by definition, unknowable…I think it is OK to to discuss, and then say “That is our understanding of it, MLD. Your understanding is different, and that’s OK”.

  70. I love when people tell me I am wrong – they are honest.

    Many dispensationalist will tell you that your view on Israel in prophetic history is essentila.

  71. MLD (#68)…Benny Hinn believes in 9 persons and each in the trinity has their OWN trinity?!?!? Wow. That is really off the wall. And totally wrong. Sound like something I encountered in Advanced Calculus in college….

  72. MLD – Many dispensationalists are also wrong. And I totally agree that all of us have a tendency to focus on our own hobby horses rather than the main thing.

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