A Rationale For The Future Of Israel -- By: Robert L. Saucy

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 28:4 (Dec 1985)
Article: A Rationale For The Future Of Israel
Author: Robert L. Saucy

A Rationale For The Future Of Israel

Robert L. Saucy*

It is generally agreed among Biblical students that the Scriptures teach a special relationship between God and Israel. While there is much controversy over the meaning of Israel in the NT, most will agree that the historical Israel of the OT referred to a community of people bound together physically by descent from Abraham through Jacob and religiously by a covenant relationship with God. That this community of Israel also constituted a nation in the usual sense of this term is clear from Scripture. When the question is raised as to the rationale of the unique relationship of the nation of Israel with God, there is likewise the general belief that Israel was elected and brought into a covenant relationship with God for service to the rest of the world. The way of this service, however, and thus the place of the nation of Israel in God’s history evokes diverse explanations. Aside from the understanding that sees Israel and Judaism as a legitimate way to God alongside of Christianity,1 a position that has traditionally been rejected by Christians, four views regarding the mission of the nation Israel may be noted.

The dominant position throughout most of Church history has understood Israel’s mission as a nation to have ended with the rejection of Christ, her role being assumed by the Church.2 Many within this position do see a future salvation for Israel and incorporation into the Church, but nothing of a role or mission is retained.3 A second understanding of Israel commanding support today envisages a future for Israel that involves not only her salvation but also some function in God’s salvation for the world.4 This view, however, rejects a literal understanding of the OT prophecies that picture Israel functioning as the central, distinct nation among the other nations during the kingdom reign

*Robert Saucy is professor of systematic theology at Talbot Theological Seminary in La Mirada, California.

of the Messiah. 5 Brief mention may also be made of a third position, which points to a present revelatory function for Israel in addition to the future role described in the previous view. According to this interpretation Israel, in the present disobedience to her election, serves the purpose of God by witnessing to his judgment on obdurate man.6 A fourth understanding of Israel’s place in God’s plan views the nati...

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