Eschatological Problems X: The New Covenant with Israel -- By: John F. Walvoord

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 103:409 (Jan 1946)
Article: Eschatological Problems X: The New Covenant with Israel
Author: John F. Walvoord

Eschatological Problems X: The New Covenant with Israel

John F. Walvoord

The New Testament by its very name proclaims the universal recognition that a new covenant was made by our Lord Jesus Christ. The title, applied to all the books of the Bible written after Christ, stands in contrast to the Old Testament or Old Covenant. In common parlance, the term New Testament has become almost a cliché, used to represent the books as such rather than their content. The term is, however, Biblical and fraught with great significance. Its interpretation bears on soteriology, ecclesiology, and eschatology in particular, and it colors theology as a whole.

The particular aspect of the new covenant considered here is the relation of the new covenant to Israel, specifically, the question of whether the new covenant promised Israel in the Old Testament will have literal fulfillment. In the hours of Israel’s apostasy and departure from God, the prophets mingled their predictions of dire judgment with glowing promises of a future in which Israel would have spiritual and temporal well-being. The interpretation of these promises in its relation to Christian doctrine is an important and determinative eschatological problem.

Like other Old Testament prophecies relating to Israel, the promises of a new covenant for Israel have received widely differing interpretations. Schools of interpretation have divided according to well-defined patterns corresponding to systems of eschatology. The postmillennial view of eschatology, for instance, finds the promises of the new covenant for Israel fulfilled in blessing on Jews who believe in Christ. Some, like Charles Hodge, who inclines to a literal interpretation of God’s promises, believe the Jewish people as a whole will come into blessing in the church through believing in Christ, thereby, according to this

theory, fulfilling the promises.1 In other words, the postmillennial theory believes the promises will be fulfilled in this present age to Jews who believe in Christ.

The amillennial theory of eschatology differs somewhat from the postmillennial view. Its thesis is that the church as a whole, composed of both Jew and Gentile, is the true Israel, and therefore takes over bodily the blessings promised to Israel. Hence, the new covenant for Israel is, in fact, identical to the new covenant with the church and fulfilled in it. Dr. Oswald T. Allis states the position concisely when he writes, “For the gospel age in which we are living is that day foretold by the prophets when the law of God shall be written in the hearts of men (Jer. xxxi.33

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