There may be others, but the two main views have Israel as the key distinguisher. One group feels that Israel is an Old Testament symbol or allegory for the Church (or true believers) and thereby forms a continuous continuity throughout the Bible. Yet, this is dependent upon how one views how God is working. If one only looks at the salvation of mankind as the only Biblical theme, then it is easy to see how a theory of God implementing salvation would be the key. God being all knowing would know mankind would sin, so the Godhead decided even before creation how mankind would be saved. Because mankind would become disobedient, God would institute grace to mankind in order to save it. Yet, is this the real theme, or the only theme? Is mankind the real focus of the Bible? And if there are other themes, how can they be incorporated into such a theme without creating other allegories?
Let’s look at another view. This view sees Israel as a nation whom God would use to reveal Himself to the world. As a nation, they failed in that respect. Yet, that did not thwart God’s plan. God still revealed Himself greater and made a way for the salvation of mankind. Although the two views sound similar, this one puts God as the main focus rather than mankind. It allows other Biblical themes to be incorporated because it is about revealing who God is. The salvation of mankind is only one of the ways God reveals aspects of Himself.
In our last post, we saw how many of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the ten tribes) escaped Assyrian captivity by fleeing to the area between the Black and Caspian Seas, as well to other parts of the known world at that time. Many, but not all, of the Southern Kingdom of Judah (2 tribes) returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild Jerusalem and surrounding areas. At the turn of the first century, there were pockets of Israelis and Jews throughout both the Roman and Parthian Empires. Once Parthia fell, many of the Israeli descendants who had been part of the Parthian Empire fled across the Caucasus Mountains into Europe, and some believe eventually into the United States. Those who remained in Armenian territory became known as Khazars. Over time, Edomites were pushed by the Nabateans into prior Israeli territory and became known as Idumea (the Greek name for Edom). These were assimilated into Jewish society by the Hasmonean Dynasty. Later, Rome further invaded and destroyed both Jerusalem and the temple spreading Jews further throughout the known world. Over time, the area was under rule by many different geographic kingdoms. Today, it is now a nation again – ever since 1948.
The first world view we mentioned sees this as inconsequential because God’s plan is not about Israel at all but true believers (mainly Jewish/Israeli in the Old Testament; mainly Gentile in the New Testament). Or, some go further to say that Israel dispersed throughout the world is the true elect who have become the Church. Again, this leads to being somewhat exclusionary and doesn’t seem to leave room for other themes of Scripture.
The second world view sees all of this in line with God’s plan of not only salvation for the entire world, but the salvation of Israel as a nation as well. It seems to blend well with such scripture where Paul states God will deal with Israel as a nation again and will be saved (Ro 11:1-36). It blends well with scripture which states that our current salvation is but a deposit, or a guarantee, to the fuller inheritance that will occur when Christ returns to set up his earthly kingdom (Ep 1:13-14). And seems to fit nicely with the defined covenants in the Bible (Abrahamic Covenant, Gn 15:7-21; Deuteronomic Covenant, Dt 29:10-13; Davidic Covenant, 2Sa 7:8-16; and the New Covenant, Jr 31:31; 32:39-40; Ek 36:26) which seem to read to be about promises to land and monarchy. This view doesn’t need to allegorize them to make them fit into a theory of salvation for mankind. They are all part of God’s revealing His entire plan for mankind, for Israel, and for the world. We find Him to be very inclusive.
Now that we see He has a plan for everyone, let’s now begin to see how he has worked with Gentiles.
Hebrews - Israelites – Jews
Fall Jewish Holidays - Part 1: Rosh Hashanah
Gap in the Timeline