1. COVENANTALIST OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

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pic12Lake Galilee from the Mount of Beatitudes

1. COVENANTALIST OBJECTIONS TO CHRISTIAN ZIONISM

We have now covered all the scriptural avenues for deciding whether the present return of the Jews to the Holy Land is a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy.

  • We have reviewed what has happened historically in the land of Palestine over the last 130 years.

  • We have examined the prophecies themselves to see whether they fit the return from exile in Babylon, or a later return.

  • We have considered the relevant Old Testament covenants and in particular the Abrahamic Covenant.

  • We have studied the issues surrounding the ownership and occupation of the land.

  • We have analysed the meaning of the words ‘Jew’, ‘Israel’ and ‘the Church’ to see whether the New Testament offers any grounds for putting a new meaning on the words Jew and Israel in connection with the Church.

  • Finally, we have looked at the origin and fruits of replacement theology and its modern counterpart, Palestinian liberation theology.

We have discovered that each of these avenues lends support to the view that what is happening in the Holy Land today is indeed a fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy. However, there remains the question of certain objections which the Covenantalists make to this view of scripture, some of which have been dealt with as the book progressed, but others of which still need to be addressed.

I propose to examine the following objections:
 

1. Old Testament prophecy should always be understood through
     the lens of the New Testament.
2. Old Testament scriptures are said by New Testament writers
     to be fulfilled in the New Testament.
3. God stipulates that the Jews must repent before they can return
    to the Land.
4. The New Testament is strangely silent on the Land and the return
    of the Jews to be a nation.
5. The current return of the Jews is far removed from biblical times.

The first two objections both come under the heading of how we interpret prophecy. It is argued that because prophecy is open to interpretation it needs to be interpreted according to certain rules of exegesis. This generally means that other writers part company with the approach of this book which is that prophecy should be understood literally unless there are very good reasons for not doing so. We will examine the way Covenantalists do this in more detail in Appendix 2. For example, Colin Chapman applies a series of questions to Old Testament prophetic passages in order to discern their meaning.


Objection 1:
The Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible or Jewish Tanakh) should be seen through the lens of the New Testament

 

This may be true in relation to the Mosaic Law. This is one situation where Jesus is said to have fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17), and to have fulfilled it in a very specific way. When he presented his blood before the Father in heaven (Hebrews 9:11-12) he brought to a close the need to present the blood of bulls and lambs on an indefinite basis. However, this does not establish the argument as a principle for everything that has happened in the Old Testament. It is one of those ideas which has crept into evangelical thinking. It sounds authoritative and leaves one wondering whether it is right to challenge it. However, I think it should be challenged.

Most evangelical Christians would agree that the canon of scripture is the completed word of God and that the Old Testament and the New Testament form a coherent whole. This means that what God has prophesied in the Old Testament does not have to be repeated in the New Testament. Some prophecies may be repeated and reinforced, for example, the Second Advent of the Messiah, but Old Testament prophecy is not invalidated if it is not repeated in the New Testament. It is God’s word and he will perform it (Isaiah 55:11).

It is also important to remember that in the early days of the Church the only canonical scriptures were those of the Old Testament. As we have seen earlier, the New Testament writings did not become the New Testament canon of scripture for several centuries. To the early Jewish believers the Old Testament was the Bible and its importance to them does not warrant its downgrading to a lesser set of scriptures in the manner of some evangelicals today. Covenantalists complain that Christian Zionists give more weight to the Old Testament than to the New. This may be true for some believers, but it is also true that some evangelicals invest most of their belief in the New Testament and pay scant attention to the Old, while others see it only in terms of what it might say to them about the Church.

I recall one correspondent who responded to a communication on this subject without once referring to the Old Testament prophecies that had been used to illustrate the Christian Zionist position. He dealt with it entirely in terms of the New Testament.
 

The answer is that we all need to give balance to the two sets of scriptures. This leads on to the next objection.
 

Objection 2:
Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled in New Testament events

 

The argument here is that the New Testament writers and Jesus himself applied Old Testament prophecies to the events of their time. The implication is that the prophecy has been fulfilled in Jesus’ time and therefore it can have no further application. This invites consideration of the possibility that a prophecy may have more than one application.
 

We will examine three prophecies which writers quote as prophecies fulfilled in the New Testament:

(a) We will start with Hosea 11:1:
 

   When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

 It is quoted in Matthew 2:15 as a prophecy fulfilled in the return of the infant Jesus with his parents from their exile in Egypt, in order to avoid Herod’s slaughter of the young children in Bethlehem. It was also fulfilled as an historical fact in the Exodus from Egypt under Moses. I have used this example to illustrate that an Old Testament statement can have more than one fulfilment; in this example both an historical and a prophetic realisation.
 

 (b) The second example is from Zechariah 12:10:
 

And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace  and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, as him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. [emphasis added]

The apostle John quotes this scripture in John 19:37. It is clearly applicable to the death of Jesus on the Cross. However, when we look at the context in Zechariah 12:10-13:1, it is quite different from the occasion in John’s gospel. It suggests a national outpouring of grief and mourning accompanied by repentance. There were believers at the time of Jesus’ death, and of course, his small band of followers who mourned him, but the nation at large was either unaware or indifferent to his fate. Many people had fallen away from following him and his death was a lonely one. This prophecy taken together with many other prophecies in the Old Testament and the declaration that Jesus will return to the Mount of Olives, Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:11, would seem to relate to Israel and the return of their Messiah. The two readings or understanding of this prophecy are both legitimate.
 

(c) The third example is from Amos 9:11-12:
 

… that they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations [Gentiles] who are called by my name, declares the Lord who does this. (verse 12) [comment added]

James, the brother of Jesus, puts an interpretation on this in Acts 15:16-18. He sees the scripture as vindicating the inclusion of the Gentiles to hear the gospel. However, the context in Amos 9:11-15 suggests that it has a further fulfilment in the restoration of Israel. The very last verse makes clear that this cannot refer to the return from the first exile because God’s people Israel (verse 15) will never again be uprooted out of the land.
 

Relative to the amount of Old Testament prophecy concerning Israel, the examples of direct New Testament fulfilment are few. They do not rule out other applications and they are certainly not a basis for saying that all the Old Testament  prophecies relating to Israel find their fulfilment in Christ and/or the Church.

 

Objection 3:
The Jews must first repent

 

The Covenantalists argue that God requires the Jews to repent before he allows them back into the Land. The relevant scriptures are:

(1)

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies – if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. Leviticus 26:40-42

(2)

And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God had driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. Deuteronomy 30:1-3 1

I am going to spend some time on this objection because I have come to the conclusion that one of the most decisive facts influencing Covenantalists in their theology, is the secular and humanist nature of modern-day Israel. The Covenantalists simply cannot see where God fits into this. Some people might argue that it is unfair to demand higher standards of Israel than of other nations, including the West. As a modern democracy with an independent judiciary, Israel has much that it can teach the surrounding nations about how people should be governed. However, Christians are right to raise this matter, because what they are saying is that as a largely secular state Israel is not walking hand-in-hand with God. As we saw in the chapter 11, the matter is further aggravated by the way in which the Covenantalists perceive Israel as having treated the Palestinians.
 

Does scripture resolve this issue for us?
 

If we return to passages (1) and (2) we find there are qualifying passages which follow them. Shortly afterwards in the same chapter of Leviticus, the Lord states the following through Moses:
 

(3)

Yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not spurn them, neither will I abhor them so as to destroy them utterly and break my covenant with them, for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sake remember the covenant with their forefathers, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of nations, that I might be their God: I am the Lord. Leviticus 26:44-45

This further passage indicates that whatever God demands from his people in the way of repentance, he will not let that stand in the way of honouring his covenant with the patriarchs. Likewise, the Deuteronomy passage (2) is followed by:
 

(4)

And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. … And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. Deuteronomy 30:5-6

The implication here is that the circumcision of the heart which is done by God himself, comes after their return to the land.
 

When we look at passages in Ezekiel we find an emphasis on God bringing them back to the Land and dealing with them there:
 

(5)

I will gather you from the peoples and assemble you out of the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel…. And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. Ezekiel 11:17, 19-20

(6)

I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. Ezekiel 36:24-26

(7)

I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel…. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord. Ezekiel 37:12, 14

This last scripture is from the famous passage in Ezekiel about the dry bones coming to life. Here we really do have a metaphor which applies to real, discernible events. The allegory is that the Jews are spiritually asleep, but will be revived. As we have seen in other verses, they will receive a new heart and a new spirit. The important verse in our context is verse 14 where it says that God will place them in their own land and then they will know he is the Lord. This sense of collective recognition of the Lord is emphasized in Ezekiel Chapter 39 after a time of God’s judgements on the earth:
 

(8)

And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgement that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them. The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward.Ezekiel 39:21-22 [emphasis added]

There is no question in my mind that the Jews will come to a place where they recognise Jesus Christ as their Messiah. These verses from Ezekiel indicate that God is proactive in the process. It is he who creates a new heart in response to repentance. The verse in Zechariah 12:10 suggests they will repent collectively when “they look on him whom they have pierced.” Where does the mourning take place? – in Jerusalem and the surrounding land.
 

I accept that this has not happened yet, except on a very small scale among the Messianic fellowships. However, that does not mean it will not happen. It is as yet an unfulfilled prophecy.
 

To argue that passages (1) and (2) unequivocally mean that the Jews must repent first, otherwise they should not be in the Land, is to ignore the promise to the patriarchs and the context in which God’s reconciliation with the Jews is stated in the other passages mentioned. This point also deals with the objection that Israel is still a secular nation, paying little attention to God. If this state of affairs continued indefinitely then the Covenantalists would have a valid point. However, it is much too early even to begin to think this way.
 

There is a final very important point about the “when” of repentance. It says in 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 that a veil exists over the hearts of the Jewish people. In Romans 11:25 it says that a partial hardness of heart has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (to the kingdom), and that this hardness is attributable to God himself (Romans 9:18). What is this veil? It is the revelation that Jesus Christ was and is their Messiah.
 

It would seem then that with such a veil over their spiritual eyes, the Jewish people are going to need some prayerful help in returning to the place where they acknowledge God’s sovereignty and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. It would seem that passages (1) and (2) are an expression of God’s desire, but that in practice God has shown them mercy and not insisted that they acknowledge him and repent before they return to the Land.
 

Would a Jewish belief in Jesus Christ have made any difference?
 

I should like to close this section with a question to the Covenantalists and in particular to the Palestinian Christians. Let us imagine that in some miraculous way the Jews had repented and come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ while still in the Diaspora and had then felt the call to return to their ancient land. Would this have made any difference? Would the Palestinians have welcomed back millions of Jewish Christians to the Holy Land? I rather doubt it. This issue was not simply one of the Jews’ spiritual condition; it was about sharing the land.
 

As the number of Jews increased in the 1930s the Arab Palestinian leadership made it clear in the revolt of 1936 that they were increasingly reluctant to share the land. Their anxieties at the large numbers of Jews arriving may have been understandable, but it is a mistake to argue that their opposition was down to the behaviour of Jews who did not know Christ. The Jews were still very much in a minority in the 1930s, they bought the land that they farmed and they were not in a position to oppress the Arabs. This narrative of the oppressive Jews has only arisen since the 1948 war. Arab opposition to their arrival appeared long before that.

 

Objection 4:
The New Testament is silent on Israel as a nation in the Land

 

I do not think there is a problem with this lack of reference in the New Testament to the restoration of the Jews as a nation to the Land.

It would be nice of course if this restoration had been spelt out in the New Testament for there to be no doubt whatsoever. If that had happened: would there still have been an attempt to fit all the prophecies of restoration into the return from Babylon? Would there have been an extensive literature on Israel as a metaphor for the Church? Would the prophecies of bringing people back to the Land from all over the earth have been considered an allegory for gathering people into the kingdom of God? We shall never know!

I mentioned earlier in the chapter (under Objection 1) that today we have both the Old Testament and the New Testament as the canon of scripture. These are the writings that God has designated as his Word to us. Scripture itself says that it cannot be broken (John 10:35) and should not be added to or subtracted from (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:18). I mentioned too that if God has stated something in the Old Testament he does not need to repeat it in the New. He says very clearly that he is watching over his Word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12; Numbers 23:19).

It is not surprising if the New Testament turns its attention away from Israel. This does not invalidate Israel; it is simply that the New Testament is all about God’s new creation, the Church. The gospels explain how it has come into being through the life, death and resurrection of its Head, Jesus Christ. The Acts of the Apostles explains how it starts to fulfill its great commission to take the message of salvation across the world, while its various epistles are principally about how it should function and how Christians as individuals, should behave and demonstrate Christ to an unbelieving world.

This new creation embraces both Jew and Gentile, but as we have seen it does not exclude the possibility of a Jewish nation living in its traditional land. Covenantalists would have us believe that the failure of New Testament writers to emphasise this possibility is grounds for arguing that the Church has now taken its place. This is a presumption; it is not a logical argument. A similar argument is involved when quoting passages which mirror the status of the Church or its people with that of Israel. For example, the apostle Peter says:
 

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. I Peter 2:9

It is argued that this verse echoes Exodus 19:5-6, but once again this does not mean that the people of the New Testament Church have supplanted the Israelites of Moses’ day. Similar words can be used to describe the two peoples without closing one of them down.
 

Let us now look at three passages in the New Testament which are cited by Covenantalists as evidence that Israel as a nation was no longer significant, and one passage which speaks very definitely about Israel and its relationship to the Church.
 

Acts chapter 1
 

The one instance where Jesus could have closed down speculation about the restoration of Israel was in Acts Chapter 1, just before he ascended to heaven. Israel as an entity was still clearly on the mind of the disciples when they said:
 

Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? Acts 1:6-7

Jesus does not deny its restoration, but says that it is not for them to know the times or seasons of the Father. Instead he turns their attention to the business at hand which is to spread the gospel and build the Church. The implication (but I agree, not certainty) is that there would be a time for the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. If not, then surely after all the time the disciples had spent with him, this would have been the time to chide them and say: “Look, you have got it all wrong. The earthly kingdom is now a spiritual one. Israel has served its purpose. The new kingdom which is established in the hearts of men and woman is what counts today.” However, he did not do this.
 

The Covenantalists like to suggest that this was the time when Jesus could have put the disciples’ minds at rest and given them the assurance they sought that the nation was going to be restored. The fact that he did not, suggests to them that this was not going to happen. However, it is possible that Jesus himself did not know the time of its restoration. When Jesus is talking about a time of great tribulation in Matthew Chapter 25, he says the following:
 

But concerning the day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. Matthew 24:36
 

The disciples clearly expected the nation to be restored and their questioning was about the timing. I think it is more credible to believe that they were left wondering about the timing, rather than about the completely new idea that it would not happen.
 

Romans chapter 4
 

It is sometimes argued that in the New Testament God’s promise to Abraham concerning his descendants and the Land has now been enlarged to cover the world. However, it is made very clear what this means in Romans Chapter 4 and it does not detract from God’s Old Testament promises to Abraham. This chapter is about Abraham being justified by faith, its great value to God and its importance for all believers, whether Jewish or Gentile. It goes on to say that his faith was counted to him as righteousness before he was circumcised, so that it is legitimate to say that he is the father of the uncircumcised as well as the circumcised.
 

The point of this is to emphasise Abraham’s spiritual fatherhood. This is clear when Paul says that he is the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised (in the flesh), but who also walk in the footsteps of Abraham’s faith. This then leads to the statement that he would be the heir of the world (verse 13), meaning believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. It specifically says (verses 23-25) that our faith is similar to his and therefore counted as righteousness when we believe in Jesus and what he has done for us. This passage extends Abraham’s role as a spiritual heir to all believers, who like him are justified by faith. It in no way diminishes his being an heir to his natural descendants through Isaac and Jacob.
 

The error made by emphasizing Abraham’s “international role” is put succinctly by David Pawson:
 

It is a major mistake to assume that the emphasis on the international aspect has excluded the national. It is a classic case of ’both-and’, rather than ‘either-or’. Abraham is both the father of one (Jewish) nation and many (Gentile) nations. But for the credited righteousness which brings salvation, both the one and the many need to share Abraham’s faith ‘fully persuaded that God had power to do what he promised’ (Romans 4:21; the whole chapter needs to be read very carefully).2

Galatians chapter 4
 

We also find a robust defence of being “justified by faith” in the book of Galatians which has led some Christians to downgrade the significance of Jerusalem in the Church age, suggesting that our attention should now be directed in faith to the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22). We have seen in Chapter 7 that circumcision was a sign for the Jews that they were under the Abrahamic Covenant and it is not altogether surprising that many felt that since Jews becoming believers in Christ would already be circumcised, it was only right and proper that Gentiles joining what started as a Jewish sect, should also be circumcised. Paul engages in a spirited defence of their right to remain uncircumcised as Gentile believers, because the circumcision party (Galatians 2:12) were a force to be reckoned with.
 

This leads Paul to make an allegory (and he calls it that) between Hagar, the slave woman, and Sarah, the free woman. Hagar represents the Mosaic Law (which of course in real life she did not – she was the mother of Ishmael!) and Sarah, through Isaac, represents the children of promise or the New Covenant. Hagar is further identified with the earthly Jerusalem which as the seat of the Temple represented the slavery of the Law, while Sarah is identified with the freedom of the New Covenant and its associated heavenly Jerusalem. This says nothing whatever about the earthly inheritance of the descendants (Jews) born through Isaac and Jacob.
 

Romans chapters 9 to 11
 

However, there is one passage in the New Testament where Paul speaks passionately about the Jews and Israel. I would encourage the reader to look again at Romans Chapters 9-11. We have already examined certain verses. I have heard preachers apply such passages to the Church and individually to Christians, for example, “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). Yes, by all means apply them to our calling as Christians, but let us please apply them first to the people they are describing, namely the Jews! Let us also take to heart the message about the olive tree and its root. If the early Church Fathers had not been arrogant (Romans 11:18) they might have avoided the error of stating that the elder (Israel) should serve the younger (the Church).
 

Some Covenantalists are unsettled by these chapters in Romans and do see God doing a work with the Jews, but they tend to see it as sometime in the future and not necessarily linked with the restoration of the present-day State of Israel.
 

Conclusion to Objection 4
 

Derek Prince in The Destiny of Israel and the Church lists 47 places in the Old Testament where God is said to have sworn to the patriarchs that he would give them the Land. In three of them he relates his oath to the covenant he made with them and in three he describes it as an everlasting covenant. We need to be careful not to dismiss the Promise of the Land in the Old Testament so easily on the basis of those very few New Testament passages, which as I hope I have demonstrated, can have a perfectly adequate explanation.
 

Having said all this in response to the Covenantalists, there is one passage where it is very difficult to avoid the idea of the Jews being together again in the land. At the end of Matthew Chapter 23 Jesus is talking to the unbelieving Jews about the fate of Jerusalem and he concludes with the words:
 

See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see, me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’. Matthew 23:38-39

Either Jesus will meet with their descendants in Jerusalem in person, or one has to allegorize this passage.

 

Objection 5:
The current return of the Jews is far removed from biblical times

 

Some Covenantalists express surprise or disbelief that the Jews could be returning to the Land so long after their expulsion and even longer after the original promise to the Patriarchs. For example Stephen Sizer says:
 

It is hard to see how God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:3 could possibly apply to his physical descendants today…. So how do some commentators make the 4000-year jump to apply Genesis 12 today? 3

 Colin Chapman says:
 

But we shall see how difficult it is, if not impossible, to relate the prophecy to specific events in the twentieth century in the way that many are suggesting today.4

 John Goldingay says, when speaking about the prophecies of Ezekiel:
 

But when Ezekiel declared that such and such a return to the land or such and such a battle was to take place, he was not announcing events scheduled for two and a half millennia after his day. He was addressing and bringing God’s word to people in his own day, warning them of calamities and promising them blessings that could come about in their day. He was not revealing a timetable or fixture list of events that had to unfold over thousands of years; he was bringing a specific message to a particular context. A fulfilment in 1948 of a prophecy given by Ezekiel to people who lived in the 580s BC is thus nonsense: it is not a fulfilment of promises and warnings that were part of God’s relationship with those people. Prophets did sometimes speak about the End of all things, but there are relatively few of these prophecies. The ones applied to the recent history of the Jews are prophecies that relate to the circumstances of the Jews in particular contexts.5[emphasis added]

My response to Sizer is, why not? My response to Chapman is that provided we remember the caveat that we should be extremely cautious about the meaning of unrealised prophecies, it is quite legitimate to examine events which have happened in the twentieth century in the light of prophetic scripture. My response to Goldingay is, how can he be so certain? His statement begs so many questions. He admits that the prophets did sometimes speak about the End of all things, but asserts, without evidence, that there are relatively few of these prophecies. He does not indicate which these may be, but asserts that the re-establishment of Israel in 1948 cannot be a fulfilment to a prophecy given by Ezekiel around 580 BC. If one calls something nonsense, then one should be able to substantiate it.
 

There are three points I wish to make in response to this incredulity that prophecies could be fulfilled so far ahead of their time. The first point is that writers such as Stephen Sizer and Colin Chapman believe in the second coming of Jesus Christ. This was clearly prophesied in the New Testament 2000 years ago, but has not yet happened. This long period of 2000 years (and more if one also believes that the Old Testament predicts the Lord’s advent as a reigning King), does not invalidate the prophecy. Non-believers mock or scorn the possibility of Christ’s return, but believers on the whole are very serious about it. They expect it to happen, whether it be in the next 10, 50 or 500 years.
 

The second point is that in one instance God very clearly indicated to the prophet that he was being told about a time well ahead in the future. This was the prophet Daniel:
 

‘But you, Daniel shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase’. … I heard, but did not understand. Then I said, ‘O my Lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?’ He said ‘Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the end of time.’ Daniel 12:4, 8-9

It is worth looking again at this whole chapter in Daniel. Many Christians think that the phrase: “Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase,” is an appropriate description of the twentieth century! I am not pressing this particular point on the reader, but the content of the chapter certainly suggests events which are still in the future.
 

The third point is that this incredulity overlooks God’s perspective on history. We humans are bound by what the scientists and philosophers call the forward arrow of time, but God is not bound in any such way. Scripture indicates that he is outside of time and can look in on all of it. To use a metaphor, perhaps time is like a circle (or sphere) to God in which the circle of history starts with the perfection of the created universe and is completed by the perfection of the new heavens and a new earth. How events are spaced on that circle may not be important to him. I think this is what the apostle Peter meant when he said:
 

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 2 Peter 3:3
 

 ——ooOoo——

NOTES:

  1. There is a further passage in 1 Kings 8:46-52 where Solomon intercedes prophetically for God’s people Israel, when they are in captivity. This is one passage that could relate to the Babylonian captivity because it was fulfilled in the prayer of Daniel. Solomon’s prayer specifically refers to their captors having compassion on them. This again was true under the Medo-Persian king Cyrus who allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.
  2. David Pawson, Defending Christian Zionism P.62.
  3. Stephen Sizer, Zion’s Christian Soldiers P.44
  4. Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land? P.318.
  5. Ibid. P.317, quoting John Goldingay, The Jews, the Land and the Kingdom.