Barry Horner and Future Israel

February 19, 2010

I recently listened to Barry Horner’s Bible conference series on “Future Israel,” and I’ve looked at a lot of material on his website.  The conference series relates to Horner’s book, Future Israel, which I may purchase and read this year, as it comes highly recommended by John MacArthur and others including Fred Butler.

Much of the content I’ve learned previously, but it was still a good refresher on the basics of Israel and the error of Replacement Theology.  As he mentions, amillennialists confuse the issue by associating the land promise with the Mosaic (conditional) covenant.  They don’t study their Bible that much; the land promise came earlier, with the Abrahamic covenant.  Such critics also claim that the land is of the “shadows” and therefore replaced with the “reality” of the whole world and heaven.  Again, they don’t know their scripture:  the land is never referred to as being a shadow.  Some things in scripture are types and shadows, such as the sacrifices and feasts of Leviticus — but not the land.  Again it shows how important it is to really understand God’s word, and my regular re-reading and study through the different genres of the Bible helps to affirm this (not just taking someone else’s word for it).  The Old Testament does have types (examples), as brought out especially in S. Lewis Johnson’s “Typology in Leviticus” series — the five main sacrifices, the cleansing of the leper, and other items.  The land is never mentioned in such a way, either in the Old or New Testament.

Here is yet another (new) term:  restorationist premillennialist.  I don’t think it’s a commonly used term, but Barry Horner uses it to describe the premillennialist view that sees a future restoration of Israel.  He similarly defines historic premillennialist, as the view of many 19th century men including Nathaniel West, J.C. Ryle, Horatius Bonar, and Charles Spurgeon, the “true” historic premillennialists as distinct from Ladd.

Barry Horner especially points out the connection between good doctrine and good fruit, and specifically notes the bad Augustinian eschatology and its shameful fruit: over a thousand years of persecution of the Jews.  He suggests that someone who has their eschatology right will bring forth good fruit, proper treatment and consideration of Jewish people.  I would only add that the cause and effect are actually the reverse of his explanation.  A person who is already anti-Semitic will find an eschatology that suits their prejudice, to justify what they already feel inside. Augustine certainly did so when he came up with amillennialism in the first place.  I personally know someone who dislikes Jewish people (based on past experiences with a few), who after conversion to Christianity happily embraced Replacement Theology and amillennialism, ideas which agree with his pre-existing view.  I’ve also heard about recent Arab converts to Christianity, who are proclaiming that the land is not significant to today’s Jews — as taught to them no doubt by like-minded amillennialists.

As Paul says in Romans 11, the purpose of Gentile salvation is to make the Jews jealous.  But as Horner rightly notes, the Church in its persecution of Jews has failed miserably in this.  Jews are not jealous of Gentile Christians, but are fearful of them.  I think of Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s testimony as well as the incidents mentioned by Horner.  This made me wonder:  if Gentile salvation is supposed to make the Jews jealous, will that in fact occur — in contrast to the past 1,000+ years — before the end of the Gentile Church Age?  Horner later pointed out that biblically-minded Christians only began pro-Jewish missionary work starting in the late 19th century, and such efforts have had some success.  That fact suggests the answer, that Jews will become jealous (instead of fearful) by the time this age ends.

Romans 11 speaks of much more than a mere remnant in the Church Age, a small trickle of Jewish believers merged in with the Gentile Church.  The remnant of Jews throughout history is proof of God’s plan and future purpose (like a deposit on the full thing), but God is not satisfied merely with a remnant.  The first part of the dough is holy, but God wants all the dough.

I have now started reading Horatius Bonar’s “Prophetical Landmarks,” an online text available at the Future Israel website.

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