Luke And The Restoration Of Israel -- By: Larry R. Helyer

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 036:3 (Sep 1993)
Article: Luke And The Restoration Of Israel
Author: Larry R. Helyer

Luke And The Restoration Of Israel

Larry R. Helyer*

The rise of the state of Israel in 1948 continues to pose a theological problem for Christian theology in both its liberal and conservative expressions. Within the conservative wing the issue has become highly charged with clear lines of demarcation between opposing viewpoints. Usually millennial views are intertwined in the debate, or at least impinge upon the discussion.1

The purpose of the present paper is quite modest vis-à-vis the larger question of whether the reconstitution of a Jewish state in its ancestral homeland fulfills, or is beginning to fulfill, OT prophecy. The paper will focus on Luke-Acts and inquire whether the author believed that there would be a future, national restoration of Israel.2 We begin with that

* Larry Helyer is professor of Biblical studies at Taylor University, 500 W. Reade Ave., Upland, IN 46989–1001.

uniquely Lucan section, the birth narratives (Luke 1–2). The ambience vividly recalls the OT era, especially the patriarchal narratives and the birth stories of Samson and Samuel that feature the motif of the barren wife.3

The birth announcement to Mary through the angelic messenger Gabriel sounds the note of fulfillment of the Davidic covenant: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32b–33; cf. 2 Sam 7:16). Luke weaves the note of hope throughout the opening two chapters of his gospel. In particular the prophecy of Zechariah (Luke 1:67–79) resonates with prophetic statements from the OT that promised a national restoration. The prophetic utterance (1:68) highlights the keynote of liberation that the God of Israel was now beginning to effect through the birth of John (1:76) and the Davidic scion (1:69). On this point Walter Liefeld observes:

The idea of redemption runs through Scripture, with the Exodus being the great OT example of rescue from enemies and captivity. Luke 24:21 shows the expectation Jesus’ followers had that he would do a similar work of freeing God’s people. Luke, though committed to the...

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