Does Israel Have a Distinct Place in the Age to Come? – Dan Juster
A continuous source of amazement for me is the fact that many of the men and women who have contributed substantially to my spiritual growth most likely would not be comfortable sitting in the same room with one another.
Perhaps it should not be a surprise. Inspiration for my life has come from Baptist Christians, Presbyterian Christians, Anglican Christians, Catholic Christians, Pentecostal/Charismatic Christians, Messianic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Reformed Jews, and Hebrew Roots Torah teachers of many different streams. It is amazing what these people have in common. It is more amazing what divides them, and how senseless that division is in the long run.
What fellowship, for example, does D.L. Moody have with R.C. Sproul? That is a question most readers could not answer, not having a clue who either of those esteemed gentlemen are. Had they been contemporaries, however, the simple tenets of Moody’s evangelism (“Ruined by the Fall, Redeemed by the Blood, and Regenerated by the Spirit”) would clash with Sproul’s elaborate Reformed reasoning.
We might say similar things of many, many others – even of the two authors who have had the greatest influence on my life. It just so happens that they were contemporaries, serving as professors in related fields at prestigious English universities. It is no secret that J.R.R. Tolkien was instrumental in bringing C.S. Lewis out of atheism and into a relationship with Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). Yet Tolkien was disappointed that he could get Lewis no closer to what he considered true Christianity (Roman Catholicism) than the Anglican Church. And yet the two remained friends and colleagues, greatly influencing each others’ literary and other works.
This begs the question: If Tolkien and Lewis could get along, why is it that Hebrew Roots believers have trouble getting along with one another? Or why is it that traditional Christians and Messianic believers of all stripes find it easier to condemn one another rather than support and pray for one another? Or why do Christians and Jews have such difficulty accepting one another as part of the same covenant people of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? It seems that our divisions are doing more work for the enemy of our souls than the good we hope we are doing for the Kingdom of our God.
In the interest of helping to correct this tendency, I am pleased to share an article recently published by Messianic Jewish leader Daniel C. Juster. Much of my understanding of the Hebrew Roots (or Jewish Roots, as he would say) comes from Dan Juster. I have been blessed to sit under his teaching and to be discipled by this writings.
This is not to say that we agree on all things. In fact, we have some profound disagreements on the question of who is Israel. I am decidedly a Two House Hebrew Roots believer, persuaded by the testimony of Scripture that Israel consists of Jewish and non-Jewish elements (e.g., the House of Judah and the House of Joseph/Ephraim). Dr. Juster contends that Israel consists only of the Jewish people, and that Gentiles have a place in God’s covenant through the Church.
An honest analysis of our differences would reveal that they are not so great as one might suppose. We are actually looking for the same thing and are using many of the same Scriptures as the basis of our expectations. It really comes down to this simple difference: the expectations Dan Juster has for the Church are the expectations I have for the restored House of Joseph/Ephraim. In the end, when Israel is completely restored at the coming of Messiah Son of David, these present differences of opinion will matter little as we will all have our perspectives corrected by God Himself.
This brings us to the article that caught my attention. Dr. Juster makes a case for the relevance of Israel in the Messianic Age, explaining from Scripture why Messianic Jews tend to have a Premillennial view of eschatology (End Times prophecies). I share that view, and in fact have used these same passages from the Bible to make the case. That is why I am pleased to present Dan Juster’s perspective on the matter in the interest of promoting constructive dialogue among the diverse elements of YHVH’s people.
Yochanan [John] said to him, “Rabbi, we saw a man expelling demons in your name; and because he wasn’t one of us, we told him to stop.” But Yeshua said, “Don’t stop him, because no one who works a miracle in my name will soon after be able to say something bad about me. For whoever is not against us is for us.” (Mark 9:38-40 CJB)
Published in Revive Israel on December 16, 2016
There are so many texts that assert a glorious place for Israel in the Age to come. Space only allows us to quote a few.
Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. (Joel 3:20)
I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; They will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:13-15)
In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains, and will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out form Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2: 1-4)
These scriptures seem to describe conditions on a renewed Earth, not in Heaven.
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, The calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hold of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
This description again is of a renewed Earth.
Isaiah 2, Isaiah 19:20-24, Isaiah 65, 66, Zechariah 14, Malachi, Rev. 11, Acts 15, Romans 15, Rev. 21. These passages describe a real world with real people who are wonderfully distinct. The Age to Come is best understood as all goodness, beauty and truth that we have known in this world, redeemed and enhanced at an amazing level beyond our comprehension.
Zechariah 14 says that all nations will come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Those who do not go up will not have rain on their lands. This does not seem to fit the everlasting Age of Consummation—ie, the eternal state in a new heavens and a new earth.
This idea of a restored Temple where sacrifices are offered is the most difficult of the millennial text for people whose sensibilities cannot embrace the literal idea. Even some pre-millennialists cannot embrace it.
For pre-millennial thinkers, Revelation 20 provides an interpretive key to these passages, Satan is bound for 1000 years and the martyrs live again. They rule and reign with Messiah for 1000 years.
If those who have embraced Yeshua are the Bride of the Messiah, then who are the guests at the wedding? If we rule with him, who are the ruled?
How will the 12 apostles of Yeshua sit on thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel?
We could go on and on. However, one can see how only a pre-millennial view ties together these many passages and makes the symbolism more coherent. We also believe that there is an application of these same truths to every tribe, tongue and nation in the Millennium. The literal fulfillment of prophecies to the nation of Israel causes most Messianic Jews to embrace pre-millennialism—exactly what was believed by the Apostolic church for the first few centuries.
Dan Juster is Director of Tikkun Ministries International.