Israel And The Church
By: John Rosenstern
This article was originally printed July, 2010.)
Israel stands at the helm of Bible Prophecy. Sadly, many today do not comprehend her role in Endtime events and, thereby, they do not provide the prayerful support necessary for Israel at this critical hour. Although it is said that Christians should agree on the essential doctrines and not be overly concerned with the “nonessential” doctrines, I contest that the timing of the Resurrection/Rapture of the church, i.e. Premillenial, Amillennial, post Tribulation, etc., and Israel’s future must be properly understood in order to Spiritually comprehend current events.
The origins of the teaching known as Preterism were written by a Jesuit named Luis De Alcazar during the counter-reformation. Preterism asserts that Bible Prophecy, especially Christian Eschatology, or Endtime Events, were fulfilled in the First Century after Christ’s Birth. This was an argument used to benefit the Roman Catholic Church with Protestants. In other words, it was birthed as a Catholic defense. The first Protestant to accept this Preterist view was Hugo Grotius, a Dutch individual who was eager to bridge the gap between Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. His first effort to establish common ground was his writings entitled, Commentary On Certain Texts Which Deal With Antichrist (1640), in which he attempted to argue that the texts relating to the Antichrist had their fulfillment in the First Century A.D. Although his work was not well received by Protestants, Grotius continued on. In his next work, Commentaries On The New Testament (1641-1650), he expanded his Preterist views to include the Olivet Prophecy and the Book of Revelation.
JOHN THE APOSTLE
This view was not embraced by the early Church Fathers, especially those who had a personal relationship with the Apostle John. I believe it is safe to say that those who associated with the Apostle John would also have possessed a correct understanding of what John meant by the “millennium.” As a young man, Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon, listened to Polycarp speak on various subjects. Based on the solid claims of Irenaeus, Polycarp is believed to have had personal contact with the Apostle John. As well, Polycarp was a strong believer in Premillennialism and the idea of an earthly kingdom where Jesus Christ would physically reign on the Earth. Irenaeus’ belief in a Premillennial Resurrection/Rapture of the church helped him to fight against the heresy of Gnosticism, which at its core teaches that matter is evil.
The church also became greatly influenced by the writings and teachings of Augustine. Augustine was recognized as antiquity’s greatest theologian and of significant importance until the Reformation. Many of his views helped shape the reformers, including John Calvin. Spurgeon said, “Calvin got his Calvinism from Augustine.” Augustine was known as the Father of Amillennialism. Amillennialism teaches that the Kingdom of God will not be physically established on Earth throughout the “millennium,” but rather that Jesus is presently reigning from Heaven, seated at the Right Hand of God the Father. The millennium began at Pentecost, as is shown by the Apostle Peter using the Prophecies of Joel concerning the coming of the Kingdom, to explain what was happening. The church’s spreading of the Gospel is, in fact, Christ’s Kingdom.
Augustine popularized the view of Tyconius that the millennium was a literal thousand year reign which will follow Christ’s Second Coming. Like Tyconious, Augustine argued that the First Resurrection of Revelation 20:4-6 is a Spiritual Resurrection, not a bodily Resurrection. Augustine adopted an Amillennial view when Ambrose taught him it was okay to allegorize the Old Testament. Many Protestants embrace this teaching today, which distorts the Prophecies with regard to national Israel’s literal Restoration and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Messiah at the end of the seven year Tribulation.
In the next few months I am going to detail God’s Plans for Israel and what role the church plays in Eschatology. Israel was set aside because of unbelief and the church, being an inferior branch, was grafted in for the purpose of spreading the Gospel. There is only one Salvation for mankind – Jesus Christ and Him Crucified. But, there is also a wonderful place for national Israel. As a child still under the law, we who are Spiritual must be good stewards towards Israel’s inheritance, for the hour is coming when David shall govern with the Righteous Branch, Jesus Christ, on the throne in Jerusalem for a literal one thousand years after the seven year Great Tribulation, and then:
“Your people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land forever, the branch of My Planting, the Work of My Hands, that I may be glorified” (Isa. 60:21).
The Bible speaks of precious Promises towards those that bless Israel. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love you” (Ps. 122:6).