Why Israel Matters for the Promises of God

In this episode, Darrell Bock and Mitch Glaser discuss the important role that Israel plays in God’s redemptive plan to bless the world.

About The Table Podcast

The Table is a weekly podcast on topics related to God, Christianity, and cultural engagement brought to you by the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary. The show features interviews with guests who are experts on the chosen topic, and each episode is hosted by a member of The Hendricks Center’s team.

Timecodes
02:11
Where does the central place of Israel come from?
06:44
Are Jews the chosen people?
17:25
Does Jesus’s fulfilling work cancel out the promises God made to Israel?
23:19
History and Politics around the land of Israel
34:35
Blessings and Curses of Deuteronomy
51:07
The Hope of the New Covenant
Transcript

Voiceover: 

Welcome to The Table podcast, where we discuss issues of God and culture, brought to you by Dallas Theological Seminary. 

Darrell Bock: 

Welcome to The Table. We discuss issues in God and culture. I'm Darrell Bock, executive director of Cultural Engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. My guest today is Mitch Glaser, who is President of Chosen People Ministries. He comes to us by Zoom from New York and our topic today is Israel in scripture and why Israel matters. We have a backdrop here to this conversation and that there are many people who think that Israel in one way or another, at least until she believes has defaulted her role in the plan of God. We're going to be discussing why Israel is important. What it means about the character of God and the promises of God, as well as what it means for Israel. What it means for evangelism, et cetera. Mitch, welcome to The Table. We're glad to have you back. You're a Veteran of Foreign Wars. 

Mitch Glaser: 

I am. 

Darrell Bock: 

Good to have you back. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Well, actually, it's great to be back Darrell and to address this topic, which is so near to my heart and something that I've spent so much time reflecting on and thinking about and spending time in Israel, which is always a good thing when you're talking about Israel. I'm looking forward to the dialogue. 

Darrell Bock: 

Very good. Well, let me just dive right in and let's talk about the covenant base for the role that Israel has to start off with. When we think about the role of Israel in scripture, some people think that what has happened in Christ somehow, how can I say this? Adjusts what we had in the older Testament or in what I like to call the Hebrew scripture? I like to remind people that when the events of the New Testament were happening, there wasn't a New Testament yet. There was only one scripture and that scripture was the Hebrew scripture. Let's start there. Where does the central place of Israel come from? 

Mitch Glaser: 

Well, Israel is a miracle Darrell because God spoke to Abram and Sarah and told them that they were going to have a baby. It would be a miraculous baby because Sarah was, and Abraham, but certainly Sarah was well beyond the age of bearing a child. Her response in the Book of Genesis was to laugh. That's why he was named Yitzhak which means to laugh. But it's no laughing matter because a miracle of God happened. We have a God who is a God of miracles when it comes to human birth. He created the way that babies are made and then when he wanted to, he circumvented it. That's what we call a miracle and so there was a miracle that took place. Abraham and Sarah should not have been able to have a child. But you see when God wants something special to happen, he does something special to make it happen. 

Mitch Glaser: 

There's a misnomer, maybe to some degree from theologians or writers, but it's actually a biblical issue because the word bahar, which means to choose is so often used of God's actions with Israel, that God chose the Jewish people. You see that all over Deuteronomy 7, and many other portions of scripture. Eklego is used, of course, in Romans 11. This whole idea of God choosing the Jewish people is important to scripture. In Judaism, there is some thinking about Israel also choosing God, but I don't necessarily see that in the Bible, but eventually Israel does need to choose God and that's the Romans 11 part of the equation. Then everything that was promised becomes whole. If I can just say that... Well, Darrell, it's hard not to tell a joke. Is that okay? We're serious about cultural engagement, but life has a funny part to it. Doesn't it? 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay, I'll sidebar this and say, "Joke coming." Go ahead. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Here it is. It's not a ha ha joke. I think it was JFK who was standing on a lectern and he was speaking to a lot of people and Golda Meir was next to him and he leans over and he says, "You know Golda, you can't imagine what it's like to be president of over 200 million people." Golda lean back and said, "Yeah, I can really sympathize, but you have no idea what it's like to be the president of two million presidents." You laughed, that's good. The point is the Jewish people are the chosen people. It's not that the Jewish people necessarily know what the Jewish people are chosen for. But you just can't treat Israel and the Jewish people as every day, one of the nations, one of a language group. You just can't treat the Jewish people normally or usually because the creation of the Jewish people and what the Jewish people were supposed to do and how the land plays into it. This was all God's idea. 

Mitch Glaser: 

It's almost like looking at the creation of the world. If you have a complaint about creation, talk to God about it. It was his initiative. If you have a problem with Israel and the Jewish people and the land belonging to Israel. If you have a problem with Israel's future, well, don't talk to Darrell Bock or Mitch Glaser about it. You're going to have to talk to God about it because the miracle child became a nation and that's what's important. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay, let me dive in here and root this in a covenant commitment, which is known as the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12 and start there because we're going to have to loop back and discuss this covenant. 

Mitch Glaser: 

I will. 

Darrell Bock: 

Go ahead. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Fundamentally calling the Jewish people, the chosen people, is a misnomer. The Jewish people are not the chosen people. They are the created people. God initiated a choice of one nation before it ever was a nation and before it ever had a land to use that nation for his plan and his promises. God gave the Jewish people life and existence. There's a great theologian. He's passed away now, Jewish theologian, Michael Wyschogrod. He wrote extensively on these issues. One of the questions Wyschogrod poses is, honestly, have you ever heard about the creation of a nation before the nation had a land? That does make Israel quite unique? Let's let's jump into chapter 12. I just want to make sure that everybody understands that we're not just dealing with a nation and when it comes to the land, we're not just dealing with any land. 

Mitch Glaser: 

When we apply our political cultural lens to the Palestinian Israeli crisis or to any kind of issues related to anti-Semitism, or even whether we talk about different brands of theological inquiry as to how all this plays out. We have to fundamentally understand that God created the Jewish people for his plan and purposes, and as one more famous Jewish quote, as Reb Tevye said, when he was told by a Polish captain that the Kazakhs were about to destroy the Jewish people. He looked up to heaven and he said, "Lord, next time, choose somebody else." The Abrahamic covenant is where the action took place. God in Genesis 12 called Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans Sarah left, also Lot. Everybody has a nephew like that. He caused nothing but trouble. God gave the details of the covenant of the Abrahamic covenant in Genesis 12, and primarily in verses one through three. Although, the covenant was reiterated in 15, 17, 22, 35, all the way through all the descendants. 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah, I'm going to come back on that because that's important. Go ahead. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe that there are four essential theological biblical components to the covenant, but all components were initiated by God. The whole idea of the Jewish people is God's idea and it's a miracle. It's something that God did himself. So, four parts. God said to Abraham, "Go to the land which I've chosen." He fills in the geography in chapter 15 and chapter 17th to some degree. Go to the land. We know that part of the Abrahamic covenant is the land. Number two, part of the Abrahamic covenant is also the very community of Israel. The fact that God is talking about sons and daughters eventually like the sand of the desert and the stars of the sky from someone who shouldn't... Even had a child. It's quite something. Number one, a land. Number two, people. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Number three is very important. Number three is that God promised a purpose and that's at the end of verse three of chapter 12, "And through you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed." God chose the Jewish people for the sake of the nations. In a sense, the Jewish people, when you see the creation of the Jewish people and the choosing of the Jewish people in light of the fall, which happened just nine chapters earlier, the fall of man. You begin to see as you weave the text together, that God chose the Jewish people as a bridge of redemption to a dark, sinful and broken world. Okay. The fourth part, the fourth component is that God would have a relationship with the Jewish people. That's implied all the way through the covenant statement. Number one, a land. Number two, of people. Number three, a calling or a purpose and number four, a relationship. All four of those component parts are fundamentally described in the Abrahamic covenant. God could never be finished with the Jewish people until those four parts were achieved. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay, now that's important because we have a promise. We have a promise to form of people. Those people have a calling. That calling has a purpose, which is actually the blessing of the world, that through the seed of Abraham- 

Mitch Glaser: 

The missiological purpose. 

Darrell Bock: 

That's right, missio and it's going to become messyological as well. You just have to [inaudible 00:12:29] not many, many letters to deal with there. You go from there and just to highlight how- 

Mitch Glaser: 

You forgot the land. 

Darrell Bock: 

Well, that's where I'm going. When you highlight the issue of the land, the land in these reaffirmation, which you've already alluded to are actually restated multiple times in Genesis 15:5-7, in 18-21 and 17:1-8. That's restated to Abraham. To Isaac in Genesis 26:2-5. To Jacob in Genesis 28:3-4, and then 13-15. Then finally, when we have all the 12 sons that make up the 12 tribes in Genesis 50:24. In fact, one can argue that the entire book of Genesis is nothing but the discussion of how the promise to Abraham to create a nation was fulfilled. What you see is the descendants and the fulfilling till we get to the 12 sons who make up the tribes of Israel at the end of the book of Genesis and lo and behold, that which was promised that would come out of Abraham has begun to have its fruition in the descending line that runs through Isaac and Jacob, and eventually to the 12 in the book of Genesis. 

Darrell Bock: 

All this is important in forming the backdrop for this relationship, which you've also highlighted that God is going to have with the people of Israel and that he formed on his own initiative and for his own purposes at the very beginning, as you've already noted. Anything you want to add to that? That's a very quick overview of the fact that land stays in view as we move through the reiteration of the promise. 

Mitch Glaser: 

That was a great summary, Dr. Bock. A lot of people like to have the discussion with the Abrahamic covenant as to whether or not it was conditional or is unconditional. I believe it's unconditional, but what does that really mean? It means that the one who created the conditions, fulfills the conditions. In other words, when all of the four parts of the Abrahamic covenant converge into one glorious event, future to today, then we understand completely that the one who did that was God himself, because you can't remove the Messiah. You can't remove Jesus out of the covenant promise because he's an essential way for the Jewish people and for all people to be blessed and to have a personal relationship with God. We do believe that the Bible was developmental. 

Mitch Glaser: 

There is revelation progresses throughout the scriptures. All I'm saying is that God is not at all finished with the Jewish people. Maybe never as he's not finished with any of us. God is not finished with the Abrahamic covenant until all elements of the Abrahamic covenant are fulfilled, no matter who initiates the fulfillment, whether it's God or whether it's Jewish people or the corporate nation of Israel. God is always behind it because it's his covenant. He's sovereign. He chose the Jewish people. He created the Jewish people and he will fulfill the covenant. I don't know how long it's going to take, Darrell, but he's going to do it. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay. That lays the groundwork for why the commitment to Israel exists. The special relationship that Israel has to God on God's initiative, et cetera. Let me flip this now to the way the pushback sometimes comes and let's address that half of the equation. What is sometimes said appealing to text like Galatians 3 and some others is that the seed is singular. The access to the blessings involved in the covenant are tied to the singular seed. Of course, the Messiah who becomes Jesus Christ in the minds of Christians, as they argue about what it is going on with the text and so Israel does not have access to blessing to the extent that she is separated from a relationship with the Christ. 

Darrell Bock: 

Now, sometimes this is called replacement theology or supersessionism. Those who hold to this view will call it the fulfillment view because they will argue that Jesus is the fulfillment of these promises. That gets posted as kind of an opposition to one another. You got to choose either the replacement supersession side or the, and or the Jesus side. You can mix that up however you want. But why is it that... A very specific question. Why is it the fulfillment in Jesus does not... How can I say, cancel out the commitments that God has made to the people of Israel as a whole? 

Mitch Glaser: 

Well, why would it. That's very Greek thinking. You may as well be following Aristotle, not the Bible. In the Bible you have parallel truths. In Greek thinking you have causal truths, one than the other. I think we should just leave out the Greek philosophy and stay biblical and understand that these are parallel truths. There's no doubt about it, that the Gentiles get into the picture, the same person who wrote Romans 11 is the same one who wrote Galatians 3. There is an olive tree illustration of what will happen eschatologically when both Jews and Gentiles fulfill their sense of unity in Christ, where we are all part of the same beautiful olive tree being nourished by the same root that might happen to some degree with the church, but it happens in fulfillment at a future date. 

Mitch Glaser: 

There's no doubt about it that the relationship with Jesus, the Messiah as revealed throughout the rest of the older Testament is critical to the Jewish future and to the Gentile future. He actually unites us. He doesn't divide us. The promises of God about land, people, relationship and vocation or calling, those are tried and true promises that were revealed in scripture. When we talk about replacement theology, we always talk about Israel being replaced by the church. Well, let's stand it on its head a little bit. We're talking about God's promises to Israel and to the people of God in general. Do we really believe that they've been replaced? Why would anyone think that they're replaced? There is a bright future for those who accept Jesus and become part of the rich root of the olive tree who are not Jewish, but God's going to fulfill his promises to the Jewish people as well. 

Mitch Glaser: 

As you would say, the inclusion of the Gentiles doesn't mandate the exclusion of the Jewish people. The rationale for that is that God keeps his promises. He spells them out and he keeps them. Does one negate the other? Again, that's living in the world of cancellation and truths where you feel obligated to choose one or the other. It's both, Darrell. It's just both. The Gentiles get blessed and the Jewish people get the covenant fulfilled. 

Darrell Bock: 

Both points are very, very important in putting them side by side. I can bring in Gentiles, which was always in view in Abrahamic covenant was through the seed that the world was going to be blessed. I can always bring in Gentiles, but that doesn't mean you lose the original recipients of the commitments that God has made. That's part of the point that's being made here. Even though the bridge to blessing is the Messiah, okay? Which is why you have a Davidic covenant. You have a Davidic covenant to build on the Abrahamic covenant so that you can have this singular figure who brings blessing and brings deliverance. You have a new covenant on top of that because the forgiveness that is needed as well as the provision of the internal work of God is necessary to complete the cycle. So that's why you get a new covenant and these three great covenants work together to show God's commitment. 

Darrell Bock: 

That original covenant in Jeremiah is explicitly said to be for Israel and Judah. It's explicitly attached to the nation. Whoever else gets included doesn't mean that you've excluded the hope that is extended to the Jewish people through this one who brings the deliverance. All that is important in thinking through Israel's eschatological role. You alluded to Romans 11, let's just review for people what that means. You've got an olive branch, an olive tree rather, that is the promise. Israel's described as natural branches in that text. Gentiles are described as unnatural branches who have been grafted in. Paul is foreseeing the reversal of that process, at least a partial reversal and it's very easy. If I can graft in unnatural branches, Paul goes on to say, it's not going to be in effect. He's saying it's not going to be very hard to graph back in the natural branches. 

Darrell Bock: 

When that happens, all Israel will get saved. The Israelites been talking about in Romans 9-11 is unbelieving Israel. It's not anybody else. In that context, he is foreseeing a day when Jews and Gentiles together in Christ are brought together in Shalom, which takes us back to Genesis 12:3, the fact that through the seed, the world is going to get blessed and Christ is in the middle of that. That's another quick overview of the program looking at through the lens of the covenants on the one hand and Paul's expression of the ultimate unity of Jew and Gentile in Christ in Romans 11 on the other is the completion of that eschatological cycle. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Darrell, would you mind if I just agree with all that. Would you mind if I just give a little bit more of a background. I think we should be fundamentally biblical, of course, but I don't think we should shy away from some of the history and some of the politics of the situation. Let share a few things. Lately, I've been studying the life of Herzl, who was so to speak the founder of modern Zionism. Theodore Herzl was a... Many of you might know this. He was born in the latter part of the 1800s. He died at 44 and actually visited Israel once, but never got to see the formation of the nation. He was a reporter. He was a researcher. He was a writer. A lot of people had tried to promote Zionism at that time, but it was Herzl who really enabled it to catch on. It was a long journey, actually. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Do you know that Herzl's goal was to keep the Jews alive. He was a non-religious Jewish people, didn't even have a bar mitzvah at the age of 13, didn't speak Yiddish. He was from Austro-Hungarian Empire, mostly the Austrian part of it. Herzl, in the latter part of the 1800s was dealing with pogrom, was dealing with Jews being killed, was dealing with the rise of vicious, vicious anti-Semitism. Jews were fleeing Eastern Europe, where there were about 11 or 12 million Jewish people in what was known as the Pale of Settlement to get out of the country because they were being persecuted. Their rights were being restricted and they couldn't all go to college. They couldn't go to medical school. They couldn't become professionals. There was just so many things that the Jews were denied, couldn't own land and places. 

Mitch Glaser: 

You have to remember how terrible that situation was. Herzl came up with one idea to what was then called the Jewish question, that was that all Jews should convert to Christianity and that the Pope should actually visit Eastern Europe and lead in a massive conversion process to Catholicism, so that the Jews could now lead a better life. That one didn't take, Darrell. That one fell flat. The next plan was Uganda Plan. In the Sixth Zionist Congress in 1903, Herzl presented the Uganda Plan and said that all the Jews all over Europe who were being persecuted should move to East Africa. That was taken somewhat seriously and it was explored. One of the problems was... There's a town, what was in Russia, but is now in Belarus called Kishinev. It was the Kishinev pogrom in 1903 that really put the Jewish people over the edge. Remember, this is all happening before the rise of Nazi as in before Hitler, before he ever marched into Poland and Austria and began slaughtering Jewish people. 

Darrell Bock: 

And before the Balfour Declaration as well. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Before the Balfour Decla... Yes, of course. The desire for Jewish people to go to Israel was a desire to not die. What happened was, none of these places worked out. Now, there was always a couple a hundred thousand Jewish people ever since throughout the 1800s and before. There were a lot of Jewish people in Israel. In fact, you can argue, maybe at times there were more Muslims than Jews, but for the most part, as you got closer to the turn of the 20th century, one can almost easily argue that there were more Jews than there were Muslims there. I'm not arguing politically who has a right to the land necessarily. All I'm saying is that the Jewish people were scattered in 70 AD. Scattered again in 122 AD in the Adriatic wars, but to say that Jewish people never had a presence in the Land of Israel for 2,000 years, is not true. 

Mitch Glaser: 

The Jewish people were there as much as any other people were there. Yes, the Ottoman Turks had control, but that didn't mean that there wasn't a huge presence of the Jewish people. Eventually, Israel won out for the Zions. Even though, Herzl was a political Zionist, there was a whole group of religious Zionist who basically said, "Wait a minute, the Jews can't go to East Africa because in our synagogue, every single Shabbat, every single Saturday, we pray for the coming of the Messiah and the restoration of the Jewish people to the lands that God promised to our Fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel went out that swamp infested, dangerous land that the Jews eventually were able through all sorts of political mechanisms, we're able to get to. 

Mitch Glaser: 

It went out as the place where the Jewish people would be saved. My joke always is, "Why couldn't God have given the Jewish people a good slice of Florida, or at least someplace in the Middle East, where there was oil." It was no great blessing to get the Land of Israel. The Jewish people had to get out and they didn't even know what was about to happen when more than six million Jews would actually be killed. What we say is out of the ashes of the Holocaust comes the birth of the nation of Israel. There is a spiritual, emotional attachment to the land that Jewish people have had since Jesus walked the earth and before. 

Darrell Bock: 

Interesting, in hearing you talk about what was said in the synagogues about Jerusalem and the hope for the Jewish people in terms of a land, it reminds me of the eighteen benedictions which is a historic Jewish blessing in which there is a prayer for the restoration of in effect, the Davidic line of kingship on the one hand and deliverance for Israel on the other. That is a part of the famous eighteen benedictions which actually is a hope that is very similar in spirit to what you see in the New Testament, in terms of who Jesus is and what it is that he's bringing. 

Mitch Glaser: 

The Jewish people, never lost hope in the promises of God. Now, did the Jewish people then, or did the Jewish people now, quote, unquote, "Deserve the land." Now let's talk a little bit about biblical grace and let's talk about covenants. Let's not talk about unconditional or nonconditional. When I was going to Bible college, after I became a believer at 19, I was a not so nice Jewish boy/gal and came to faith. It's a good thing the Lord threw me right into Bible college, because it was the only place I could get discipled. I was rowdy and rebellious and somebody needed to tame me. I had a whole group of loving teachers. It was a pretty traditional dispensational Bible college. I remember sitting there and the professor said there was only minimal amount of grace in the Old Testament. Or some people said there was no grace in the Old Testament. Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Well, of course, nobody ever said there was no truth in the Old Testament, but they said there was no grace. Grace is getting what you don't deserve. Now nobody would argue that the Jewish people deserve God's blessings from a theological point of view. First of all, the Jewish people would never argue that because the Jewish people, Judaism is known as a works religion, which is totally, totally false. Judaism is not a works religion. It's a grace religion. It's a Messiah missing religion, which is the problem. It's a grace religion. Jewish people know that they were chosen by God. The land was given by God. There was never any question of whether or not Jewish people deserve the land. Darrell, thank God. None of us, whether we be Palestinian or Jewish or Turkish or American or European, thank God, in his providence, we don't get what we deserve. 

Mitch Glaser: 

He makes grace available to us and sometimes we don't choose it. The Jewish people, do they deserve the promises of God promised to Abraham. No? Absolutely not. When will the Jewish people deserve those promises? Well, never. When will God give the Jewish people the fulfillment of these promises including the land? When Jesus returns, because it's in Jesus that we find the ultimate grace and we get what we don't deserve. The fulfillment of God's promises. The moral and ethical argument that the Jews don't deserve the land is a false argument because no Jew and nobody who knows the Bible would ever argue that's the basis for the land. It's the covenant that's the basis for the Jews having the land. It's the covenant and the covenant is a covenant, a gracious covenant. You understand what I'm getting at? 

Darrell Bock: 

Yeah, absolutely. Let me get at something that does get raised in this space that you're now talking in, and that is the blessing and cursings at the end of Deuteronomy in which some people say, "Well, those are the conditions of Israel's right to remain in the land." Et cetera. I like to point out that for a long time, when Israel was disobedient, God still graciously allowed Israel to be in the land. Then eventually there was deportation and it came, of course, with Syria and with Babylon respectively. Then, of course, later to some degree with Rome. In all those cases, the idea was it was not going to be a permanent deportation. It was always a temporary deportation. Then this is when I like to inject a thought that's really important, which is, if we're going to talk about Jesus as the fulfiller, then maybe we ought to let the fulfillers speak about the plan. 

Darrell Bock: 

At the end of Luke, when he declares Israel's house desolate, because they're not responding to him. He doesn't say, "I declare you're house desolate." And then put a period. He goes on to say, "I declare your house desolate until you say, "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, looking forward to a limitation of the judgment on the nation for covenantal unfaithful and looking forward to a period of restoration." Which then he reaffirms in the Olivet discourse when he talks about Jerusalem being in the hands of the Gentiles of the times. The Gentiles are fulfilled or which Peter reaffirms and Acts 3, which says, "Heaven must hold the Messiah until the times of restoration coming. If you want to know what the times of restoration look like, read the prophets. They're telling you what's coming." 

Mitch Glaser: 

Again- 

Darrell Bock: 

Go ahead. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Again. It's all about grace. It's all about getting what you don't deserve. Let me read the Old Testament version of Luke and Matthew 23:37-39, which is the parallel passage. 

Darrell Bock: 

Right. 

Mitch Glaser: 

In Deuteronomy 4. Okay. First sermon before the Israelites go into the land, Moses says, verse 27, "The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, you'll be left few in numbers among the nations where the LORD drives you. There you will serve God's the work of man's hands, wooden stone, which neither you hear, nor eat, or smell, but from there you will seek the LORD your God. You will find him if you search for him with all your heart and your soul. When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you in the latter days, you will return to the LORD your God, and listen to his voice. For the Lord your God is a compassionate." The Hebrew word, rahamim, "A compassionate God. He will not fail you nor destroy you." Here it is, the zinger, "Nor forget the covenant, with which he swore to your fathers." 

Mitch Glaser: 

You see, even though the Israelites were about to go into the land, Moses told the Israelites, you're going to go in the land. You're going to go out of the land because you cannot be disobedient, but by the end of time, this covenant, this compassion of God, this grace will overwhelm you and I will basically cause you to be obedient and you will repent and you will turn, Zechariah 12:10, and you will return to the Lord. Then what I call covenant convergence will take place. Covenant convergence is when all four parts of the Abrahamic covenant reiterated in the Davidic covenant with the new covenant and so on. When all four parts actually happened at the same time. Now here's the other part of this. It's the relationship, it's the land, it's the blessing, it's the people. Let me emphasize one thing. Through you, all the families of the earth shall be blessed. When the Jewish people get right with the God of Israel, through Jesus, the Messiah, and return to him and accept him as Lord and savior. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Then they will finally enjoy all of the promises, including the land promises. Let me tell you if you've ever been to Tel Aviv, if that's a promise of blessing, I don't know it's like a New York with Hebrew subtitles. It's no blessing to anybody. It's a nice place to get Falafel and do high tech. There is a day coming when the Jewish people will truly be blessed and will enjoy the land according to Zechariah 14, guess who swarms in to enjoy the Feast of Tabernacles and to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom where Jesus is ruling as on his rightful throne in Jerusalem, the Gentiles, the nations. Darrell, listen the cross is the center of human history. Don't take this wrong, but the cross leads to something else. I always love to say, "There'd be no second coming without a first coming." 

Mitch Glaser: 

I don't mean that in the way. It sounds all the blessings of the second coming are going to come about because Jesus, the Messiah died for our sins and we can become right with God. The curse can be lifted, Romans 8, from the land and the promises of God will be fulfilled. I think the greatest moment of Gentile blessing will be when, along with the Jewish people, living in the land of Israel, with the Gentiles coming and spending lots of time, who knows, maybe they'll get their own victory. When that time comes, the blessings are not for the Jews alone. They never were supposed to be. The blessings are going to be for Palestinians and for Europeans and for South Americans and for Asians and for all who are drawn to the one king of Israel and the king of the world, I assure. That's what we're looking forward to. That's covenantal convergence. That's what's going to happen. 

Darrell Bock: 

Just to reinforce this with a couple of other passages, whether you're thinking about Isaiah 2:1-4 or Isaiah 19:13-25, I like the second passage a lot because it pictures the highway and that highway, I call it the M1. That highway runs from Egypt through Jerusalem through Assyria and they're all gathering in Jerusalem. All three groups are called my people in that passage in one respect or another 

Mitch Glaser: 

Who has replaced in that passage? 

Darrell Bock: 

No one. 

Mitch Glaser: 

That's right. 

Darrell Bock: 

No ones replaced. We're all blessed. The picture of ultimate reconciliation of various strange people with a various strange history. All you have to do is look at the history of Israel, these will be the nations throughout the history of mankind not reversed in Jesus Christ permanently. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Let's talk about one little... Totally agree, but I know we're on a clock here. Let me say this. Do we believe that all of these eschatological events and this covenantal convergence that we're talking about will happen in the flash of one moment? Or do we believe that there are incremental moments to this? In other words, we experience some of what will be where we are now because of the presence of Jesus in our lives, by his spirit. My answer is I see the Jewish people beginning to come back to the Lord. I see the remnant increasing. I see the Jewish people in the land of Israel, lord knows it's not at peace. It's not the land that he wants us to inherit, but at least in part miraculously, almost seven million Jewish people out of the 14 million Jewish people in the world have returned to the land. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Do I see these things as incremental? Do I see the fact that the church, Jews and Gentiles, is enjoying the rich bounty and presence of the Lord because of the Holy Spirit who indwells believers and is in the midst of the church. Do I see men and women, Jews and Gentiles being transformed by God's grace through the proclamation of the gospel? I see all of these things. I think we're on a slow march to this covenantal convergence. We have to recognize that we need to understand this as we walk our way through it. It doesn't mean it's going to be easy, but there is some reconciliation happening. There are Jewish people living in the land and some non-Jews living in the land. We are reaching out to others for Jesus. There's lots of Jewish people coming to know the Lord in Israel, in the United States. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Recently with the Ukraine situation, I know at least 20, 25 Jewish people that were baptized, who came to know the Lord, and were immersed. God is doing some really great things. It's going to happen at the end. It's all going to happen. Just like it all came ahead of the cross. It will all come to ahead of the second coming, however, we're on a slow march and we need to recognize the signs of the times. 

Darrell Bock: 

Okay. Two points here to close up. One is I always like to tell this story. As I go to Israel on a regular basis. When I go to Israel on a regular basis, almost inevitably end up on both sides of the wall that exists around the Palestinian community. I was asked to come to the Palestinian community to minister to them on one of the more recent trips that I made. It's now been several years ago, pre-COVID. Nonetheless, I was going in. I was actually pretty nervous about going into this environment and speaking about some of the things that I believe about Israel. As soon as I walk into the house, I see a symbol which you often see in Israel. You don't see it very many places anywhere else. It's a Star of David and a fish connected by a cross. 

Darrell Bock: 

The moment I saw that I went, "I'm among friends. I'm not going to have a problem here." You hear about Jewish believers, messianic and Gentile believers, usually Palestinians touching base with one another based upon their union in Christ. You hear about that going on, which shows everything that's going on. That's one observation. The second observation I want to make is this. One of the questions that continually comes up from people who would doubt what we've just said over the last little over half an hour is, well, "I can hold out hope for Israel in the future. I can hold out hope for Jews in the future. I'm not sure about the national thing, but everything comes through Christ." A nation that is detached from Christ, we can assume has God's eye or God's blessing. I think that everything that we've just said, particularly in the last 20 minutes, argues against that view and your slow march is another element of that equation. 

Darrell Bock: 

I like to say, when I get asked about Israel being in the land as primarily secular nation unbelieving, et cetera. What do I think of that? Why do I see that as significant? I say, because two centuries earlier, if you had said that that was going to happen, most people would've said, "You're crazy." There's no way that could happen. There's no way that could be possible. What you're seeing is God's showing through events that the things that he has talked about and the things that he has promised are in process and are in the direction of being doable for him. Of course, anything's doable for him that he sets his mind to, but still it's worth reminding people who are slow to see that God can do something. To remind them that God's quite capable of doing this. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Do I have time to share one little passage? 

Darrell Bock: 

Absolutely. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Ezekiel 36 beginning at verse 22, "Therefore say to the house of Israel, thus says the Lord God, it is not for your sake, O house of Israel that I am about to act." Again, Israel was chosen for the Gentiles, "But for my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went." I chose you to be alike to the nations, instead you've blown. Here's what I'm going to do, "I will vindicate the holiness of my great name." Which is God's motivation, "Which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Lord God, when I prove myself holy among you in their sight." We can honestly say that Ezekiel's talking on behalf of the Lord to a nation that is unregenerate. That is not believing. That is not enjoying this grace. That is failing in their mission. Correct? This is a simple nation. What is this great that's going to cause the nations to be astounded? 

Mitch Glaser: 

What is God going to do? Verse 20, "For will take you from the nations, gather you from all these lands and bring you into your own land." Still their own land, even though they're on exile, "Then I will sprinkle clean water on you and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols, wherever I'll give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you, and I'll remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I'll put my spirit within you, cause you to walk in my statutes and you'll be careful to observe my ordinances and you will live in the land that I gave to your forefathers, so you will be my people and I will be your God." That's covenantal convergence. How do you read the current situation? If the Jewish people are back in the land in unbelief, then that is a fulfilled prophecy because the Jewish people were not supposed to come back to the land in order to merit. 

Mitch Glaser: 

In other words, they were not to be holy when they came back to the land to merit being in the land. Actually they were to be in sin, rebellion, which they were, and God would do a miracle. He would take the Jewish people, put them back in the land. Then in the land, he would pour out his spirit, change their heart and restore them and fulfill his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Jewish people back in the land fulfill this prophecy and many other prophecies, which exactly what God said would happen. If you want to argue again that the Jewish people don't deserve the land, I would say exactly, that's why it's a fulfilled prophecy. They don't deserve the land. Abraham was asleep when the covenant was made for heaven's sake. There's no doubt that they don't deserve the land, but they're in the land, and that's a sign that God is working out this covenantal convergence in these last days. 

Darrell Bock: 

We pull this all together and what's interesting about that passage, of course, is that it is another way that Ezekiel expresses the hope of the New Covenant for the nation. It depicts the core of the gospel, which is you get sins forgiven so that your vessel can be cleansed so that God can indwell it. That's a very Jewish way of thinking. Then of course, on the other side is you said because of the fathers and because of the name of God. This is a good place to wrap up. It's because of the fathers, God made a commitment to the fathers, which he is keeping. It's not because of them and it's not because of the nation that comes out of them or anything deserved. It is all the grace and commitment of God and God keeps his word. God's going to honor his word. He's going to honor his word, not only to those that he originally made it to, but to the world that was supposed to become the vessel blessing through that word. Everybody gets covered that way. That's grace abounding in a needy world, which is at the core of what the gospel is all about. Coming through Jesus, what else do you need? 

Mitch Glaser: 

Amen. That's about... So be it. I think that's a great summary and a great picture. We should live life in light of the future. I think that's one of the real messages of 1 John, for example, "He who has this hope purifies himself, even as he is pure." I think that we live our lives in light of what God is going to do. If we understand that a covenantal convergence is coming, then we do two or three things. Number one, we love the Jewish people. We pray for the Jewish people and we support the Jewish people coming back to the land. That's important. We also share the gospel with the Jewish people because the Jewish nation is on its way to being saved corporately, but there are individual Jewish people who won't make it to that day and they need to be saved before they face a crisis eternity. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Then finally, we need to love the nations. We need to understand that God chose the Jewish people to be a light to the nations and that these astounding miracles that God is going to perform in the last days are all designed to capture the attention and the hearts of the nations. It would be had been better if the Israelites somehow had won the nations earlier, but it's going to take God to work in the lives and hearts of the Jewish people to turn them to himself, to then ultimately, as he promised, bring his blessings to the nations. It's an argument in my understanding for world missions, Darrell, because God loves the nations. Yes, I still believe Romans 1:16 should be taken quite literally. I believe it's to the Jew first, but I don't believe that protos or proton is sequential. I believe it's a matter of priority. We reach the Jewish people because the Jewish people have a vital role in the plan of God and they need to hear the gospel, but it never stops there. It's also to the Gentiles. 

Mitch Glaser: 

Unfortunately, sometimes the Jewish people become the Great Omission of the Great Commission. We don't want that. The last place you want to see replacement theologies in world evangelism. We want to make sure that the church understands in light of what God's going to do. We need to reach the Jewish people and we need to reach the world for Jesus. 

Darrell Bock: 

The result on the other end is a Shalom, a Shalom that exists between people who were so totally estranged that whether you think about the period in Babylon or the period in a Syria, the time of the Romans and the time of Jesus. Whether you think of the most recent European history, some of which you reviewed for us in terms of what was going on in Eastern Europe. No matter what you think about, and you see estranged people, you see Jesus Christ, bringing people together in an act of reconciliation that not only involves their relationship with God, but corporately their relationship with one another, which is why the gospel stands at the center of what this hope is all about, with Israel being a very important part of the way that story works. I want to thank you, Mitch, for being a part of this conversation and for the ministry that you have at Chosen People Ministries. Thank you for giving us your time to talk about this important topic. 

Mitch Glaser: 

My pleasure, anytime Darrell. 

Darrell Bock: 

We thank you for being a part of The Table. We hope you'll join us again soon. If you want to see other episodes of The Table, you can turn to voice.dts.edu/table podcast. We'd love to have you come back and we hope to see you again soon. 

Voiceover: 

Thanks for listening to The Table Podcast. Dallas Theological Seminary. Teach truth. Love well. 

Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock has earned recognition as a Humboldt Scholar (Tübingen University in Germany), is the author of over 40 books, including well-regarded commentaries on Luke and Acts and studies of the historical Jesus, and work in cultural engagement as host of the seminary's Table Podcasts. He was president of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) for 2000–2001, writes for the Christianity Today's Places and Space series, and serves on the boards of Wheaton College, Chosen People Ministries, the Institute for Global Engagement, and Christians in Public Service (CIPS). His articles appear in leading publications. He is often an expert for the media on NT issues. Dr. Bock has been a New York Times best-selling author in nonfiction and is elder emeritus at Trinity Fellowship Church in Dallas. When traveling overseas, he will tune into the current game involving his favorite teams from Houston—live—even in the wee hours of the morning. Married for over 40 years to Sally, he is a proud father of two daughters and a son and is also a grandfather.
Mitch Glaser
Mitch comes from a traditional Jewish family in New York City. He attended Orthodox Hebrew school and was bar mitzvah at age 13. In his first year of college, Mitch hitchhiked across the country to California, where he met some Christians who told him Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Mitch accepted Jesus in November of 1970, attended Bible school and seminary, and has been serving in Jewish missions since then. Almost immediately after becoming a believer, Dr. Glaser became involved with what was then known as the West Coast branch of Chosen People Ministries (formerly known as the American Board of Missions to the Jews). This was the beginning of a forty-year ministry that has included working with Jews for Jesus and Ariel Ministries. Since 1997, Dr. Glaser has served as president of Chosen People Ministries—one of the oldest and largest Messianic missions in the United States.   
Contributors
Darrell L. Bock
Mitch Glaser
Details
October 11, 2022
covenant, Israel, Israelite, Jews
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