My last post quoting Ladd has prompted me to expose some of my own theology on how Israel transitioned into the true Israel at the preaching of John the Baptist. To begin, all throughout the Old Testament there was a remnant of faith. From the first civilization just after the garden of Eden, all throughout the nation of Israel’s history, and subsequent to the exile, there were some who had faith in the God of creation (the God of Israel). Mankind was doomed to repeat the sinfulness that prompted the flood without God’s intervention in the form of His plan. That plan is based on the foundation of Genesis 3:15 of which the next step was the nation of Israel.
Israel was designed to be the people of God. Yet the entire offspring of Israel (Jacob) did not demonstrate faith in God. Instead, at any point throughout the OT, a remnant within the nation can consistently be seen to be identified with the people of God which He originally intended. This assembly within the nation constitutes elect Israel. In my last post my quote by Ladd showed him using the term qahal Jahweh to describe this remnant. It basically means assembly of the LORD, or the LORD’s congregation. Anyone interested can look up the following verses to see the use of the term qahal in the OT: Psalm 22:22, 25, 35:18, 40:9, 10, 89:5, 107:32, 149:1.
The law and the prophets prophesied until John the Baptist, Matthew 11:13. When he came on the scene, something new started occurring that had never happened. John demanded repentance signified by baptism in light of a coming judgement. Baptism was a rite reserved for pagan Gentiles who wished to become members of the nation of Israel. For John the Baptist to demand true repentance signified by baptism was quite a stinging statement for law abiding Israelites who felt they were already “in the nation”. The requirement for baptism in anticipation of Messiah’s kingdom was like telling these Israelites that they were nothing more than godless pagan Gentiles. This is why John chastized the people for believing they were already in just by way of Abrahamic ancestry, Luke 3:8.
Jesus also demanded repentance signified by baptism. He announced the kingdom as being at hand, and then present in his ministry. It was like Jesus drew a circle around himself and said, “The kingdom is here, repent and come on in.” He put everyone on the outside except Himself.
So when a remnant of Israelites did repent by faith, they were baptized signifying that they were starting as godless sinners entering the kingdom of God for the first time with no Israelite privilege. This would not constitute a new Israel, but the true Israel. They were the qahal Jahweh, the true people of God. They repented in advance of the judgement so they might participate in the future kingdom in the present. When Jesus told the Israelites that the kingdom would be taken from them and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it, Matthew 21:43, we see the change in terminology from the kingdom of Israel to the Kingdom of God – identified now with the qahal Jahweh. The New Covenant in Messiah’s blood would be made with the true nation of Israel (the elect). The last supper was in the presence of His disciples who would later sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the Messianic kingdom. Gentiles would (years later) be allowed to participate in the New Covenant without becoming Israelites as per Romans 15:8-12.
Now here is why A-Millennialism rings true with so much of the scriptures. Israelites and Gentiles alike who confess Jesus as Messiah are members of the eschatological kingdom. The church is the present assembly of members of that future kingdom. When we assemble ourselves together, the kingdom is present in our midst, but not in its final consummate form. Dispensationalism wants to separate the church from the kingdom. A-Millennialists see the church as an extension of the kingdom, and there is power in that. That’s why A-Millennialists preachers can be so powerful in the scriptures. The kingdom is a present reality for them. It’s as if they are in the kingdom in advance. And that’s exactly what I believe! The difference is that I don’t see the church as replacing Israel, or as superseding Israel, but as the true Israel expanded to include all Gentiles. Any Gentile anywhere can be baptized into the qahal Jahweh. One day the true Israel will include the entire nation of ethnic Israel. It will be the next step in the progression of the Kingdom of God.
Does this post look familiar, PJ?
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman