My dispensationalism is about as mild as this rebuke is intended to be. Basically, I see a future for the nation of Israel during the millennium, I do not believe the church replaces Israel or inherits the Abrahamic promises. Romans 11 is key for me.
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. Romans 11:25-26.
God hardened Israel’s hearts because of their unbelief and set them aside for a time, until the “fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” Then, God will return to his work with Israel and will redeem them fully and completely, giving complete fulfillment to all the promises given to the prophets.
I realize most of you don’t believe this and I’m not interested in an argument with Amillennialists and Historic Premillennialists. And really, who can argue with Postmillennialists – I mean, really? I’d like to address my fellow dispensationalist and dispensational-leaning friends and ask you to consider what I say.
We have a tendency to be “pro-Israel.” I love Israel. I’ve been there twice and if I ever win the lottery (I’m gonna have to start playing if I want to win, I suppose) I’ll go live there. But those pro-Israel sentiments have crossed a line to become anti-Muslim, anti-Arab convictions and that is both anti-Gospel and a misunderstanding of the teaching of dispensationalism. Have we suffered a blindness in our political support of Israel that causes us to support them no matter what they do, because of what we believe about their Abrahamic covenant blessings?
I think we have and would like to challenge that thinking.
From a Professor at Dallas Seminary
Populist, extremist dispensationalism gives us all a black-eye. There is a more biblical and scholarly version of the doctrine taught at schools like Dallas Seminary that deals with more rationally with some of these issues. I remember a bit of a rant one of my DTS profs went on one day during class. This is a 40-year-old memory. I think I am faithfully carry forward the gist of his thoughts though this is certainly not word for word.
“Listen, gentlemen, we believe that God has a future for the nation Israel but we are in the church age today. In this time, it is our duty to take the gospel to every tribe, every language, and every nation on earth. That means that it is just as important that we take the gospel to the Arabs as to the Jews. We cannot simply believe that everything Israel does is right and justified and side blindly with them. The church’s duty is to carry Christ to Muslims, Jews, and to every place on earth.”
1. Believes that there is a future for the nation of Israel.
2. Believes that God has set aside the nation of Israel for a time today because of their unbelief while the church, that great eschatological mystery, works by the Spirit’s power to gather ONE Body from every tribe and language on earth.
3. Believes that in the church, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek. We are not pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian, but pro-Jesus and pro-Gospel. The church today is about all nations and there is no nationality that has a special place.
4. Believes that God will preserve Israel and raise them up in his time. Because we believe in the sovereign purpose of God we don’t have to act like it’s up to America to “save Israel.” We trust God’s eternal purposes. Hitler couldn’t destroy the Jews because of God’s sovereign protection and we are not going to be their saviors.
5. While it is a good thing for America to be an ally of Israel, we must not assume that every action of Israel is morally blessed. Israel at this point is a secular nation that often acts without regard to morality or justice. We are not obligated to support everything they do just because they are God’s chosen people. I do not think we should abandon Israel but we should not deify or sanctify the current secular nation either.
6. Islam is a false religion and much evil is done in this world under its banner. But Muslims are not our enemy – they are our battleground. We fight against the principalities and power to win Muslims to Christ. God is every bit as pleased when a Muslim is won to Christ as he is when an American or a Jew is saved. Whenever we subvert the gospel to political aims in such a way that we treat the destruction of Muslims as a good thing, we have lost touch with the gospel purposes of Christ.
7. Remember, though, modern-day Judaism is just as false and non-salvific as Islam. You cannot be saved through Judaism that ignores Christ any more than you can be saved through Islam. There is no gradation of false religions.
It is not wrong to support Israel and to love it – it seems very natural to me. But it is wrong in this day and age to love it in a way that ignores or hinders the Great Commission. If we act as if disdaining the descendants of Ishmael is acceptable we do not understand the Bible and I maintain, we don’t understand what it means to live in this “church age.”
Dispensationalism will naturally lead one to love Israel and I don’t think we need apologize for that. But if we understand it rightly, we remember that the restoration of Israel is a future act of God and that our duty right now, in this dispensation, is to evangelize Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Iraq and other Islamic nations every bit as much as it is to reach Jews.
If our standing with Israel hurts our evangelism of Muslims, our politics has perverted our theology.