It is the 30th of January 2023. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
A very Happy Monday (that I wished you from my desk last Friday)- let’s go to the mailbag for a hard question. A friend of the show- JT.
"You mentioned in the Albert Glock episode the thorny issue of connecting ancient Israel with modern Israel.
I know there are a variety of Christian perspectives, and I’d love it if this got the CHA treatment.”
And JT knowing the show well, gives me his location and fun facts- he says he is:
“From the Greater Dayton Area, the birthplace of not just the airplane, but the pop tab, the automobile self-starter, and the first NFL game (Dayton Triangles vs. the Columbus Panhandles).”
Ok- so, the modern state of Israel and biblical Israel- I’ll try and do this from a big-picture consensus level and then point out where it gets tricky.
For the modern state, we can go to the 19th century for two big events- the first was the publication of Theodore Herzl’s pamphlet “The Jewish State,” where modern Zionism and the call for a Jewish state are raised. Interestingly he suggests Palestine or Argentina. Wow, imagine if it were Argentina- the history of the Middle East would be quite different!
Secondly is the dispensational theology of John Nelson Darby. Darby’s dispensationalism, which would inform the footnotes for the Scofield Bible, argued that God had dealt differently in different dispensations- and his plan for the Jewish people is distinct from his plan for the Christians. There are end-time implications for Jewish believers and the promise of land.
Ok- so, we call it Palestine sometimes because that is the region’s ancient name- back in 450 BC, Herodotus called it such. Of course, we have Israel in the region under King Saul, David (David drives out the Philistines from which we eventually get the name Palestine), etc., but it splits. Then the Northern Kingdom of 10 tribes was wiped out in 722 BC, and the Southern tribes were taken into their Babylonian exile in 586. Many Jewish people came back, and it was under Roman rule when Jesus came onto the scene. After Jesus' death and Resurrection, the temple was destroyed in 70, and then the remaining Jews were wiped out or scattered after the Bar Kochba revolt in 138. Emperor Hadrian reverts the name of the land back to Palestine to disassociate it from the Jewish homeland.
And then it was a hot potato until 1517 when the Ottomans empire took over. Four hundred years later, in 1917, the British took it under a mandate from the League of Nations. When the mandate expired in 1948, it set the stage for Israel to become a state that year.
Ok- part of the problem with the question has to do with what God promised Abraham. He promised that he would make from him a great nation. The word nation is the Hebrew “Goy”- translated in the Septuagint as “ethne” and in the Vulgate as “gentile.” What? Yeah, it’s a people group- not a nation-state. But what about the promise of Canaan? It seems that it depended on obedience, and when the “ethne” of the Jewish people disobeyed, they lost it. But there was always a faithful remnant. So, you have the “ethnic” Jewish and “faithful” Jewish people. At least, this seems to be a good definition relying on the New Testament.
Jesus came to call the faithful, and then after his resurrection, we have the gift of the Holy Spirit and Pentecost- this sees the “grafting on” (using Paul’s language) of Gentiles (or other nations) to the first nation with the promise.
The problem comes with Romans 7 and a few other places where we see a distinction still between Christians and Jews, but I think a separation of “ethnic” vs. “believing” Jews helps here. So, are Christians the “new Israel”? Yes? In that, they’ve been grafted onto the branch of believing Jews. And then, of course, there is no Greek or jew, etc., etc. for all are one in Christ Jesus. Modern Israel is a nation-state with some natural lineage to Abraham, but it is neither the same as the Israel of the Old Testament nor the New Testament.
How’s that? Did I hit any landmines? I’m sure I’ll hear about it if I do, and if I do, I will come on this show and admit it- because the smartest people I’ve ever known are good at saying, “here’s what I got wrong.”
The last word for today comes from the book of Philemon- an awesome picture of the Gospel as Paul is sending the former slave back to his master, with a twist.
12 I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. 13 I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. 15 Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever— 16 no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 30th of January 2023, brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man who wonders why today’s football teams can’t have regular names like the Triangles and Panhandles- he is Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man still convinced the best name ever was the Central Delaware Future in the WPSL. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness, and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.