For those who don't believe God will keep His promises to Israel, I offer this 28-day challenge.
I used to think that differences of opinion about Israel's future were merely intellectual differences. I only briefly addressed this in the book, because my rapture arguments do not depend on a literal future for Israel anyway. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that it comes down to some very basic questions. What do we think about God and His Word? Do we have a God who keeps His promises or not? Do we have a God that says one thing and means another? How would you like God to keep His promises to you the same way He keeps His promises to Israel. How would you like it if God said, "I'm going to take away my promises to you and give them to someone else"? How secure is your own salvation? What if you treated your own children like that? Or your wife? Do we have to keep our marriage promises literally but God doesn't? What kind of a God do we have?
If you haven't noticed by now, I'm not just using the Bible to prove the timing of the rapture, but I'm using the rapture issue to demonstrate the harmony of the Bible.
But, you say, some promises are conditional. I understand that. I'm not talking about the conditional promises. I'm talking about the unconditional promises, those promises that are tied to God's unchanging character, those promises that God hasn't forgotten even though Israel has forgotten God, those promises that apply to the end times.
Furthermore, God guarantees that the conditions will be met too. If Israel repents, then will you allow God to keep His promises? (Daniel 12:1, Deuteronomy 4:30, Hosea 3:5)
It's not that I want to win an argument about Israel, but it's the nature of the Bible promises that I'm concerned about.
"But the Bible has figurative language," I hear you saying. Yes, it does. You and I use figurative language every day. And people understand you just fine. In the same way, we should take figurative language in the Bible in its normal intended sense.
Figurative language has a literal meaning behind it, but that is no license to turn literal statements into figurative language. That's upside downit puts you over the Bible instead of under the Bible. It's one thing when Jesus spoke in parables and gave the literal interpretation thereof. But it's another thing to grab a literal statement and devise our own parable to replace it. That makes the Bible clay in our hands instead of letting us become clay in the Potter's hands.
The 28-day challenge is a Bible-reading program for 28 days. Before giving you the specific passages, I'd like to offer some background reading. The statement "Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak" occurs in the context of listening to the Word of God (James 1:1825). So just sit back, relax, and hear, really hear, what the Word of God says.
"I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid.... Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? ... For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? ... how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? ... For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (selections from Romans 11)
According to the book of Galatians, the church does not replace Israel. Notice four points: 1) Paul's argument is not Israel versus the church, but rather faith versus works, 2) Gentile believers become children of God, not children of Israel, 3) faith receives "the promise of the spirit," not the promise of land, and 4) the blessing comes upon the Gentiles rather than Gentiles becoming Jews.
Who is "the Israel of God" in Galatians 6:16? The same as the first Israel in Romans 9:6, the same as the "remnant" in Romans 9:27 and 11:5. The opposite of those who were troubling the Galatians (1:7, 3:1, 4:17, 5:10, 5:12, 6:1213, 6:17).
Israel means Israel, and the church means the church. The Bible doesn't mix them up, and neither should we.
The 28-day challenge is: read the last seven chapters of Isaiah, repeating it four times. After 28 days submit your feedback, and let me know if this didn't change your mind.
God's blessing is as real as His wrath.
In place of the shame of Israel before the Gentile nations, God will doubly honor Himself through her.
Like a bridegroom, God will not rest until His bride becomes a royal crown of glory for Him.
God will avenge Israel because He is their Father even more than Abraham is.
Will the potter throw away the clay, or will He re-fashion the pot?
Will the gardener destroy all the grapes, or will He keep the cluster with blessing in it?
What God starts, will He abort? No, He will finish it.
Will the Gentiles be complete without Israel? No, through Israel the Gentiles learn of God's honor.
Will Israel last as long as the heavens and earth? No, as long as the new heavens and new earth.