by Bruce Mills
I recently finished listening to a six-part sermon series by John MacArthur titled Why Every Calvinist Should Be A Premillennialist. I highly recommend it to all my Calvinist friends who are amillennial. All the sermons are available as free downloads at http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons.
I followed that up by reading an article titled "The Future of National Israel" by Dr. H. Wayne House in the October-December 2009 edition of Bibliotheca Sacra, the theological journal published by Dallas Theological Seminary, my alma mater. I also recommend that article as an excellent summary of the various theological positions regarding ethnic Israel.
The reason I focused so much attention on this subject is because I am currently teaching through Romans 9-11 in my Sunday School class. Most reformed commentators are amillennial in their eschatology and hold to either a covenant theological position or a replacement theological position regarding Israel. Neither position sees a future for national Israel. The covenant position sees the only Israel that will ever be saved and experience the kingdom as those believing Jews who are a part of the "one people of God" who make up the church. The replacement position says that because of Israel's rejection of Jesus as its Messiah, it has been replaced by the church, which then becomes the beneficiaries of all of God's promises and blessings to that nation. Consequently, because the covenant and replacement theologians do not believe in a future for national, ethnic Israel, they take some strange approaches to the clear teaching of Romans 9-11 regarding God's eternal relationship to that nation.
Because I hold to a historical, literal, grammatical approach to the interpretation of Scripture in which biblical language is to be understood in its normal sense, I must conclude that the numerous promises which God made to Israel in the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 12:1-3), the Davidic covenant (2 Sam. 7:12-16), and the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-37) clearly teach that God promises a future day of salvation and a physical kingdom for ethnic Israel. Based on the language which God used in giving those covenants, they were unconditional, unilateral, and irrevocable.
Therefore, when Paul says in Romans 11:1-2, "I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!...God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew," and in verse 11, "I say then, they (Israel) did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be!" and in verse 26 which says "all Israel will be saved," I must conclude that the clear meaning of the language is that national Israel has not been eternally rejected or replaced, and that there will be a future day when salvation will come to the nation as ethnic Israel bows the knee to Jesus as its Messiah.
Finally, let me pass along one final recommendation for those who wish to study this issue in great depth. Perhaps the most comprehensive treatment of this subject is Future Israel by Barry Horner. It is 400 pages long, which may sound intimidating, but John MacArthur calls it “the best treatment of Israel’s future" he has seen. He further states, "Future Israel should be required reading for every pastor, seminarian, and student of Bible prophecy.” I personally hope to get my own copy soon as a resource for my future studies.
In conclusion, I urge all Bible students to be consistent when interpreting the Scriptures. If you are going to use the historical, literal, grammatical approach to the interpretation of Scripture when it comes to the doctrines of sovereign grace and salvation, then be consistent and maintain that same approach when studying eschatalogical passages relating to the nation of Israel and the millennial kingdom.