Sunday, April 3, 2011

NT Israel...figurative or literal?

in this post i am doing something a little different...i am requesting responses with opinions. i realize that due to my long periods of blogging inactivity, it is highly likely that no one follows my blog anymore. BUT in the off chance that i do still have readers, i'm interested in what you think!

last weekend i went with my bff to a service with a group that i think would identify themselves as christian zionists. these are people who are gentile christians and are very focused on the land, nation, and people of israel. they want very badly for jewish people to believe that Jesus is the Messiah prophesied in the hebrew scriptures (which is awesome), but they also place enormous significance on the jewish race as God's chosen people (both in the old testament and today). they also place a great deal of emphasis on the geographic location of israel, and they believe that jewish people returning to jerusalem are vital for the second coming of Jesus. they also believe that the land of israel (jerusalem specifically) is the destiny of all believers in Christ. (please note - this is my simplistic interpretation of the beliefs of the specific group of people i observed and not necessarily a good definition of christian zionism as a whole).

i have been thinking about this a lot over the past week. it is clear that in the OT God called the jewish people out, set them apart, and established Himself as their God and them as His people. but my question is this - in light of Jesus' death and resurrection, and His clearly calling people of ALL nations, races, and peoples unto Himself, what status does the jewish race have now? OF COURSE God loves them and wants them to repent and to accept Jesus - but does God hold the jews in a place "more near and dear to His heart"? i was reading tonight in 1 peter, which is a book believed to have been written largely to gentile christians. peter writes to "those who are elect exiles of the dispersion." my study notes (in the esv study Bible) state: "Believers are not only exiles, but God's 'elect exiles.' They are his chosen people, just as Israel is designated as God's chosen people in the OT..Since the recipients of his letter were primarily Gentiles, Peter explicitly teaches that the church of Jesus Christ is the new Israel - God's new chosen people." (however, the notes also point out another view, that "these verses show that the church is like Israel but that the ultimate fulfillment of these OT prophecies pertains mainly to the future ethnic Israel rather than to the church...").

so what do you think? i definitely lean toward the view that God used the jewish race in the OT as a vessel to bring about redemption for people of all nations, but i am definitely unsure as to what i believe about the current call/role of israel today and what God has in store for jewish people in the future. are they still "chosen" moreso than gentiles, or does God's choosing "post-Jesus" have nothing to do with race and everything to do with the heart? and as a gentile believer, what should i do regarding jewish people who sadly have missed the Messiah they've been waiting and hoping for?

This blog is a testimony to the work that God is perpetually acting in my life. I am learning that when I think I've given enough of myself, I've barely begun. My prayer is that as God continues to grab hold of my life, not only will He become greater and I become less, but He will become ultimately supreme and I will vanish. This Holy Disappearance will be a lifelong journey in which, by the grace of God, I will become so wrapped up in Him that all of me will disappear and all of Him will SHINE