Eschatological Problems V: Is the Church the Israel of God? -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 101:404 (Oct 1944)
Article: Eschatological Problems V: Is the Church the Israel of God?
Author: John F. Walvoord

Eschatological Problems V:
Is the Church the Israel of God?

John F. Walvoord


One of the basic issues of eschatology is the question of the literal fulfillment of the prophetic Word. Upon this question hang such vital issues as heaven and hell, the resurrection from the dead, the judgment of saints and the unsaved, and all the other important truths that speak of life and glory after death. It must be clear even to an unbeliever that Christianity stands or falls upon the question of the reality of the hope that is in us. The meaning of the present life of the Christian is undermined and destroyed if there is no literal fulfillment of the prophecies of the Scriptures.

In the field of eschatology, in so far as it may be limited to future events as distinguished from fulfilled prophecy, there are few questions which are more incisive than the question of the fulfillment of prophecies relating to Israel. The program of future events is determined largely by prophecies given to Israel. While the basic doctrines of heaven, hell, resurrection, and judgment are not disturbed as to their fact by various interpretations of Israel’s prophecies, the resulting order of future events in the prophetic Word as well as the program for the present age is vitally altered by the principles of interpretation adopted.

The question raised in this article is not one of small proportions, nor is it merely a technical study which little affects the structure of doctrine. It is rather one of a number of decisive questions which too often is overlooked entirely or its conclusions lightly assumed without proof. The issue, in brief, is this: Has the New Testament body of believers, known as the church, supplanted Israel, thereby inheriting her promises, fulfilling her prophecies, and displacing Israel forever as a chosen people? In other words,

Is the church the Israel of God, the inheritors of Israel’s spiritual blessings?

There are many other questions which range alongside the main issue. Is there a future for Israel as a nation? Will Israel be regathered from their present world-wide dispersion? Will the promise of the land given to Abraham’s seed be fulfilled? Will the promise to David regarding his everlasting throne and everlasting kingdom and everlasting seed upon the throne be fulfilled? Will the glowing promises given to the prophets regarding a coming age of peace and righteousness in which all will know the Lord from the least to the greatest be fulfilled? Will the promised Messiah reign on the earth, ruling with a rod of iron and displaying perfect justice and mercy? Is there a literal millennium during which Satan will not decei...

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