The Table Podcast

Classic: Israel and Anti-Semitism

In this classic episode, Dr. Darrell Bock, David Brickner and Dr. Mitch Glaser discuss Israel and anti-Semitism, focusing on evangelical attitudes and perspectives.

Brickner explains the ministry of Jews for Jesus
Dr. Glaser explains the ministry of Chosen People
The shift in Evangelical attitudes towards Israel
The Abrahamic Covenant and Israel’s place in God’s program
Perspectives on Israel and the doctrine of election
The Passover Seder, Jesus, and the New Covenant
Israel, the church, and Replacement Theology
Dr. Bock discusses passages in scripture that point to Israel’s reintroduction into God’s kingdom program
Dr. Glaser and Brickner discuss Jewish evangelism and the importance of understanding the role of the Jewish people in the second coming
Answering the objection that Israel, because of her rejection of the Messiah, has been replaced by the Church
Christ’s role as faithful covenant keeper and redeemer
The tragedy of ignoring Jewish evangelism because of skewed theology
Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table, where we discuss issues of God and culture, and our topic today is “Israel and Anti-Semitism.”

And I have with me two of the most significant people – among the most significant people in the Messianic Jewish movement. And It’s David Brickner of Jews for Jesus, who’s with me here in the studio, and Mitch Glaser who runs Chosen People Ministries. We’ve got him skyped in from the lovely island of Manhattan. And thank you all for joining me today.

Mitch Glaser
Of course.
David Brickner
It’s great to be with you.
Darrell Bock
Now, let’s talk a little bit about each of your ministries. David, I’ll start off with you. Talk a little bit about what Jews for Jesus is all about.
David Brickner
Well, Jews for Jesus is a name that people associate with a lot of different things. We have a little plaque on the cornerstone of our headquarters that says, “Established 32 A.D., give or take a year.” But the organization actually began 40 years ago, in 1973, and God has blessed us with a direct evangelism focus. We exist to make the messiahship of Jesus an unavoidable issue to our Jewish people worldwide.

And so, through all kinds of creative means, through direct evangelism, boots on the ground missionaries, we’re active in 14 countries around the world. Our largest branch actually right now is Israel in Tel Aviv. We have 24 staff there, and we are, through all kinds of different ways, trying to get Jewish people to reconsider what they think they’ve heard and have dismissed, and that is that Jesus really is the one of whom the prophets spoke, He is our Messiah, and that we should put our trust in him for our salvation.

Darrell Bock
Oh, and Chosen People Ministries, talk a little bit about what they do. And it may sound a little bit like an echo, but that’s okay, as well as how long they’ve been around.
Mitch Glaser
Chosen People is 120 years old, and I’m not the founder, just in case anybody is wondering about that. We began because a Hungarian rabbi, Leopold Cohn, got saved on the streets of Lower Manhattan and had a real heart and passion to reach his own Jewish people.

And so, in 1894, Chosen People began. And from the beginning, we did a lot of different things. Rabbi Cohn would preach the Gospel, start Messianic meetings on Friday night and Saturday morning, and speak to Christians on Sunday. And then Rabbi Cohn would feed poor Jewish immigrants. And he set up a medical dispensary in Brooklyn. At that time, Brooklyn only had probably less than 100,000 Jewish people; today it has close to 1,000,000 Jewish people.

And so, we continue with Rabbi Cohn’s vision, although our website is better. And so, we do a lot of different things. We’re in, counting the United States, quite a few – more than a dozen countries, more than a dozen cities all throughout the United States.

We do friendship evangelism; we do media-based evangelism. And then we also start what we call Messianic Centers, and we have centers of operation in Israel, New York City, London, Germany, Argentina, a bunch of other places.

And then we also plant what are called Messianic congregations or Jewish Christian churches, and we’ve started dozens of them over the years. And right now we’re associated around the globe with about 40 Messianic congregations that are either being planted by Chosen People, who have Chosen People staff–leaders in their pulpits. And so, God’s doing some great things, and we’re seeing some Jewish people really open to the Gospel. And our international headquarters is right here in New York City.

Darrell Bock
And the goal is to make Messiah known to the Jewish people and to make Him – and to encourage people to let people – Jewish people – know about that. Is that basically correct?
Mitch Glaser
Well, we have a two-fold mission. One is to directly evangelize and disciple Jewish people, and then secondly is to encourage and help our Christian brothers and sisters do the same with their friends and Jewish relatives and loved ones.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So, that gives people a sense of what you all do in your location and things. And our topic today is interesting. I think that the view of Israel has undergone a shift in the time that I’ve been involved here at Dallas Seminary in talking about and doing theology.

When I was a student in the ’70s and then in the early ’80s, Israel was kind of seen as – the rise of the nation of Israel was seen as kind of a fulfillment of Scripture, God was at work. There were interesting things going on in the world, things that hadn’t been anticipated as a result of the nation being established in 1948, that kind of thing.

And the attitude towards Israel, I think, in the evangelical community was mostly positive. We’ve seen a shift in the last – what? – 15-20 years, and I’d like for each of you to describe how you see that and perhaps why you think that’s taken place.

So, David, I’ll start with you. Why do you – how is Israel viewed today, and how is that different than what I described was the case, say, in the ’80s?

David Brickner
I think it definitely looks different than it did in the ’60s and ’70s, when there was so much enthusiasm with Israel, with the recapture of Jerusalem. And I think it’s become more complex because of the awareness in the Church of the plight of the Palestinians.

And so, for many, it’s not a biblically-based viewpoint, but rather a social consciousness-based tangle that we really need to help Christians to untangle and recognize that God loves Arabs and Jews equally, and that the greatest impetus for the Gospel is when Arabs and Jews can say to one another, “I love you in Jesus’ name.”

And so, the problem is that you have these poles of kind of a political Zionism that finds root in certain wings of the Church, and then the very social conscious that has – is turning into kind of a divestment move among those Christians who want to kinda punish Israel for the plight of the Palestinians.

And both poles, I think, are wrong and misleading and not where the Church should be. To find a middle ground, where we care for the Palestinian situation and show the kind of love that Christ would have us to, and yet still believe that what God is doing in Israel is of great significance. Out of the ashes of the Holocaust has risen a modern state, which I believe is God’s intention. And there are still many, many Christians who absolutely believe that.

And so, I don’t think that the support for Israel has necessarily waned, it’s become more complicated, and we need to help, especially a younger generation, figure that out. And the only way we can do that is carve out a large middle ground where you can be supportive of Israel and still care for the plight of the Palestinians.

Darrell Bock

Mitch, what’s your take on this question?

Mitch Glaser
Well, I agree with most of what David said or much of what David said. And we’re working along the same lines. I can add to it by suggesting this: I think that our contemporary Church – as both David and I travel around to many churches and speak, and so we have a broad range of experience, which is a real blessing, ’cause we get to know a lot of different types of Christians – and so, I generally see a detheologizing within the Church.

And I think we’re on a descending theological spiral which is sometimes even reflected in the curriculum at seminaries. And so, I see less languages, less theology, less Bible, except of course at Dallas Seminary. And what I see is that people are making decisions that they used to make based upon the authority of Scripture, now they’re basing their decisions in some way following the culture and so on.

And so, for example, one of the values of the young people is the equanimity of all ethnic people’s religions and others gender issues and so on, which you’ve wrestled with as well. And so, everybody’s the same: Jews, Gentiles. The ground’s even at the foot of the cross; there’s no difference between what a man can do, what a woman can do, and everything else.

And so, there’s no – so, then, trying to get Christians, particularly younger groups, to buy into the fact that for some reason God chose the Jewish people, through the Abrahamic Covenant, to be His people for a special purpose that indeed would bless the nations is pretty – is getting more difficult, because the culture is demanding that we see everybody and treat them all equally.

And so, it’s very difficult to wrestle with the theology of God’s selection of people and nations and then to try and deal with equanimity and treating everybody equally. And so, I think that we need to do more by way of biblical theology to help people make good choices.

And I also think that the alleged decline in support for Israel is overstated. A lot of the churches that I go to are very, very much pro-Israel. But then again, a lot of churches tend to be less – they’re not – they’re asking deep questions, but they’re not solving these questions by understanding the Bible or theology, because too often they’re following the culture, which the Church does tend to do at various stages.

So, I think we need deeper cultural engagement to decipher the difference between cultural and biblical values. I think that we need to increase our understanding of a biblical theology of Israel and the Jewish people. And I think that once we start doing that, then we have a better basis to talk about some of the more profound issues of reconciliation, of living in peace as one people, and so on.

So, I think that that’s just some of what I would add to what David said.

Darrell Bock
Okay. So, the situation is actually quite complex. We’ve got multiple nationalities involved. We’ve got multiple ways of thinking about religious involvement. I mean people think, “Well, you’ve got your Jews; you’ve got your Christians; and you’ve got your Muslims. And so, it’s just those three groups.”

But actually, within those groups you’ve got subdivisions that make things more complicated because you’ve got Messianic believers on the one hand; you’ve got Arab and Palestinian believers on another. And so, that complicates the mix. And they’re both minorities in the midst of these huge majorities that that surround them, that kind of thing, making the situation on the ground more complex.

Well, I don’t want to analyze the political situation so much, although I think it’s important to have that as the backdrop. Let’s step back and say, “All right, why – what does the Bible tell us about the place of Israel in the program of God?” Let’s just start there and think through – we’ve mentioned the covenants, so I think what I’ll do is I’ll let each of you explain why you think the Abrahamic Covenant is so important in this discussion.

Mitch, I’ll start with you, since I led off with David on the previous question. So, explain why Israel is important in Scripture and put us in Genesis 12.

Mitch Glaser
Well, I should begin with a quote from my favorite theologian, Reb Tevye in Fiddle on the Roof. When confronted with the persecution and dispersion of the Jews from Anatevka, where they would all probably move to Brighton Beach and other places like that, Reb Tevye kinda looks up to Heaven and says, “Next time choose somebody else.”

And I think that it’s a great line, because election of the Jewish people in Scripture is viewed by Jewish people in terms of obligation rather than privilege. And the obligation goes all the way back to Genesis 1Mitch Glaser:1-3, where God said, “I will bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you, and through you all the families of the Earth shall be blessed.”

And so, it’s not only that God chose a person – Abraham, chose a nation – the Jewish people, that selected a land – Israel, but he also gave Abraham and the Jewish people a mission, a vocation. And the mission was to be His bridge of blessings to the entire world.

He sealed the covenant in blood in Genesis Chapter 17. He passed the covenant along to Abraham – to Isaac and to Jacob. He reiterates the covenant at Mount Sinai, and He also reiterates the covenant in Deuteronomy 7, for example, where he tells the Jewish people that they were not selected because they were the largest in number but the fewest in number and again reaffirms the election of the Jewish people based upon his selection through the Patriarchs, through the fathers.

And then, of course, jumping all the way to the New Testament, this is reaffirmed by Paul in Romans 9 through 11, but especially in Chapter 11, particularly in verses 25 through 29 which speak about the future of the Jewish remnant turning to Jesus, and all Israel will be saved. The remnant will become the nation; the nation will be the remnant, etcetera.

But again, Paul says that the reason for Israel’s election is because of what God did through the Patriarchs. And so, it’s foundational, the Abrahamic Covenant. It predicts the future of the nation; it predicts the future of the land. And it links the mission of Israel. And it also links the mission of the Gentiles, because in this Age, God said to Abraham, “I’ll bless those who bless thee and curse those who curse thee.” And so, God wants to bless the Gentile nations [break in audio].

I can make one more point, and then I’ll let David run with it, and that is, “I’ll curse those who curse thee.” And there are – there’s two different words for curse. One is to make light, and the other speaks of the judgments upon the Jewish people outlined in Leviticus 26 and 28.

The whole idea here is that if we make light of God’s role and place of the Jewish people, then we might very well be subject to the curses that were outlined for Israel based upon her disobedience in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.

And so, I think that we need to issue a prophetic warning to the Church, and that is that if the Abrahamic Covenant is still in effect, it’s not an elective in God’s plan any more than anything else God told us to do is an elective. So, unless the Abrahamic Covenant is conditional and is cut off for some reason, either by time or some other purpose, then it stands: the people, the land, the mission, the responsibility of Gentiles to bless rather than curse.

And I believe that this is important. It’s one of the reasons why we’ve just done a conference on all of this and why you and I, Darrell, have edited a book that’s going to be coming out that will be a biblical theology of Israel and the Jewish people, because we need not only the Jewish people, but we need Christians to understand that being a blessing to Israel, whether that blessing – you even can – we’re not even talking politically.

Let’s just assume that the greatest blessing is to bring the Gospel to Jewish people, then that’s a responsibility; that’s a duty. Romans 1David Brickner:11, God wants the Gentiles to make Jewish people jealous. That’s all part of an Abrahamic worldview.

Darrell Bock
Okay. David that was a – Mitch gave a pretty –
David Brickner
He did.
Darrell Bock
– full look at that.
David Brickner
That’s great.
Darrell Bock
What do you have to add to that?
David Brickner
Well, maybe I shouldn’t be thinking about giving you more work to do, Darrell, but it seems to me that what we need is a postmodern understanding of the doctrine of election. And that kind of preferential treatment is very politically incorrect. And so, that’s one of the reasons why people with, as Mitch pointed out, less biblical sophistication and theology really wrestle with this issue of the Jewish people being called by God, being elected by God.
Darrell Bock
So, the idea of a people having a special place is kind of a problem for people.
David Brickner
It is. And yet, if we throw off the election of the Jewish people through the Abrahamic Covenant, then we have no basis for understanding the election of individual believers and of the Church, the body of Christ.

There’s that old, little poem that was written by somebody in London back in the early part of the 20th century, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” And I think that is a lot where people are today, “How odd of God to choose the Jews.” He goes on to say, “Not so odd as those who choose the Jewish God, yet hate the Jews.”

And so, I would say that hatred towards the Jews may not be the best way to describe it, but kind of a simmering, under-the-surface resentment, “What makes you so special?” And unless we can really explain how Abraham and the Jewish people were not elect for themselves but for the glory of God and for the blessing of all people, and that he is now the main vehicle, as children of Abraham, for every tribe and tongue and nation to come together and receive the fullness of God’s goodness.

Like Paul says in Ephesians 4, “This is the wisdom of God that was not known beforehand,” but it is the wisdom of God, and therefore it needs to be embraced by the body of Christ as the wisdom of God, and then they can recognize all of the implications for that ongoing election. We need to help the Church figure that out today.

Darrell Bock
So, we’ve got this base in which God has selected out Israel for a special vocation; I like that word. And that vocation involves blessing the world, really, through what it is – the knowledge of God that comes through the revelation of the people of God, being Israel. God is honored in that. We’ve got those things in place.

And, of course, the next place to go, probably, in discussing the biblical base of this, is to talk about the new covenant that comes out of the Abrahamic Covenant, to a certain degree, and kind of completes the loop. How is that – what’s Israel’s role in that covenantal promise, where now we’ve got the New Covenant.

Some people called it the “Renewed Covenant.” I actually don’t like that name so much, because within the offering of the covenant, it makes the point, “This is going to be a covenant not like the one I made on the mountain, not like the one I made in Sinai.”

So, what does the New Covenant give to this picture, and what’s Israel’s role in that covenant?

David Brickner
Well, I think first of all, we need to recognize that the new covenant, as Jeremiah speaks of it, was given to Israel and Judah. So, it has to work for them before it can work for anybody else. And that’s important, then, to understand the nature of the relationship of the rest of the body of Christ to that New Covenant. That comes through being grafted in to the rich root of the olive tree, as Paul talks about in Romans 11.
Darrell Bock
And we’re definitely going to come back to that topic, ’cause that question about whether the Church has taken the place of Israel and Judah is an important question in this conversation. We will come back to that specifically. So, go ahead.
David Brickner
But I think that the picture of one new man that Paul paints in Ephesians as part of this mystery that’s now been revealed –
Darrell Bock
Mitch Glaser:11-22, mm-hmm.
David Brickner
Is something that we have to see as the big – the macro picture of redemption that includes a place for the Jewish people and that even in eschatology, which is unfortunately been the only basis for many people’s understanding of Jews and Israel – eschatology, of course, fills in the picture not just in a future kingdom, but in an eternity where the New Jerusalem has both the tribes and the apostles on the gates and on the walls, and this is this coming together in a wonderful way of God’s purposes that stretch all the way back to Abraham in Genesis 12, and all the way forward to the end of the book in Revelation.

And when we get that macro picture, then we can start to apply it to some of the more pressing issues that we talked about at the very beginning: Palestinians and Israelis and Jews in the land but in unbelief and all of the implications of that that the Church is really wrestling with today.

Darrell Bock
Now, the New Covenant, obviously, is about the Law being put on the heart of people. It’s made to Israel and Judah as was stated. But what else about the New Covenant is relevant to the conversation, Mitch?
Mitch Glaser
Well, I think we had a beautiful illustration this week of the relevance of the New Covenant, because it was in the middle of a Passover Seder, which, of course, was a celebration of the old covenant because it was during that – during the Seder that we commemorate the shedding of the lamb’s blood for the redemption of the first-born males, and we even take it further because we tell the whole story of the exodus, the deliverance of the Jewish people from Egyptian bondage, the sweetness of freedom in the Promised Land, all these great, great things happened, we’ve observed, during this week of Passover.

And it’s very fitting that in the middle of the Passover Seder, that Jesus breaks the – what we believe to be the middle piece of matza, which symbolizes His priesthood and sacrifice, and puts it away and brings it back, symbolically considering His resurrection. And then He lifts the third cup, the cup after the meal. And we know that that’s the cup of redemption.

So, though there’s scholarly debate about the middle piece of matza to some degree, I have my own strong opinions about it, but there’s very little discussion on the third cup. That’s the one after the meal, symbolizes again the blood of the lamb that was shed.

And in the middle of this Seder, Jesus pours new meaning into the third cup. He raises it, and He says, “This is the blood of the New Covenant.” And so, we understand that this New Covenant, ratified by the shed blood of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, established in the middle of the Jewish Passover Seder, is an invitation for Gentiles, ultimately, to join in.

And that’s not an obscure part of Scripture. This joining in is not only mapped out in Ephesians, it’s mapped out in the olive tree illustration in Romans Chapter 11, over and over and over again. And it goes, again, back to the Abrahamic Covenant, where Israel’s – the exclusive choice of Israel was not to lead to exclusivism, but actually to universalism. But the good kind of universalism. The kind of universalism where the Gospel would be for everybody.

The Good News is for everybody: Jews and Gentiles, for all who have been brought near to the promises of God through the shed blood of the Lamb of God. And so, I think that that’s very important. And of course, Darrell, I know that you want us to talk about the Law being written on the hearts, and you want us to talk about the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, which we know we have a good Luke-Acts connection there with Jeremiah, as well as the book of Hebrews.

But certainly the Jewish people waited – and again, this is tied again to the Jewish festivals. So, they waited after Passover, counted down 50 days – didn’t they?

Darrell Bock
Mitch Glaser
And then on the 50th day, coincidentally, God chose the Feast of Weeks, Shavuot, or Pentecost, as the day when he would send his Holy Spirit to fulfill this promise. And so, you have the New Covenant, the first part of it at least, revealed in the middle of the Seder, and then you have the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Jewish people, you have that as part of Shavuot, the fulfillment of this great promise.

And so, I believe that Christians should try and understand their Jewish roots and Jewish heritage, and what it means to be grated in. So, it doesn’t mean that Gentiles have replaced; it means that Gentiles are included as God always promised. So, the sharing of the blood of redemption of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, of the Law being written upon our hearts, this is not something that one or the other has, but in Christ, we all have it.

Darrell Bock
Now, it’s important for me just to note, in passing, for those who are listening, that we’re taping this during the week of Passover, and so, that’s Mitch’s allusion, even though you’ll be hearing this somewhat later. And that imagery is important.

I’d like to make a christological point as an aside here that needs to be observed as well, and that is there’s something about the authority of Jesus wrapped up in His taking a – how can I say this? – a feast that has been commanded in the Torah, and filling it with fresh symbolism. Who has the right to take something that’s written in Exodus and give it new meaning? He’s got to be pretty important to be able to do that.

David Brickner
A Prophet greater than Moses.
Darrell Bock
A Prophet greater than Moses. And so, even the choice of taking this core symbolism and adjusting it in light of what God is now doing through Jesus, to take one picture of salvation, if you will, and turn it into a mirrored but separate picture of salvation at the same time says an awful lot about who Jesus is.

And, of course, the resurrection is God’s vote in the dispute about whether Jesus has the right to do that or not. So, this is a very, very important part of that scene as well.

Mitch, you look like you’re ready to chime in at any point here. GO ahead.

Mitch Glaser
You know me well. I don’t think we should lose the hermeneutical factor here in this discussion. I was with a brother who – Korean brother who was raised as someone who believed that when you looked at Israel in the Old and New Testament, it always referred to the Church. We call that replacement theology, supersessionism, and obviously there’s a continuum of these doctrines and various interpretations.

And he said to me that, “You know, I was so geared to reading the Bible this way, that I didn’t know there was any other way to read the Bible.” And so, he was a replacement theologian from birth. And then, eventually what happened is he was reading the Bible one day, and the Holy Spirit challenged him. Of course he’s a Presbyterian, so I don’t know how that really happened, ’cause – can that happen with Presbyterians?

Darrell Bock
Yeah, I think so.
Mitch Glaser
Maybe, okay. So, he was a very conservative guy, and the Lord just said to him, “Let’s try and take Israel as Israel, as the Jewish people.”

And he said once he put that together, his whole understanding of Scripture was transformed. Let’s face it. For many, many, many, many years, the Church has interpreted itself and read itself into the history of Israel, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament.

And so, what we’re talking about is something not only hermeneutical, but almost akin to a worldview. And so, the challenge of asking our brothers and sisters in the broader Church to think about Israel’s role actually means that they have to reinvestigate and rethink their basic hermeneutics, what words mean, how literal should Scripture really be taken.

And I believe that that’s a very important issue, and I think that the hermeneutics of the situation needs to be fully addressed.

Darrell Bock
Yeah, and I’m gonna ask a question that’s really gonna put this in focus in just a second.

But, David, do you have any observations as well in terms of both the Christology and the hermeneutical question that rotates around things like – events like the Last Supper?

David Brickner
Absolutely. And it goes to the very character of God. What do we believe about God? Is he a promise-keeping God?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. So, it’s God’s faithfulness we’re talking about.
David Brickner
Absolutely. And so, through his keeping of his faithful promises to Israel, he has been glorified through history. And for a Church, through hermeneutics or self-dealing, to deny that to God, that’s the first sin.

The sin isn’t against the Jewish people; the sin is against God Himself, who staked His reputation on the perpetuity of the Jewish people, who gave them precious promises and said, “Forever, not just for a limited time.” And it almost makes God out to be a bigamist, because He marries His people Israel. He says, “You’re my bride.” And then the Church says, “Oh, but he wasn’t really talking about you; he was talking about us.”

Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. And those are passages that relate to Luke 13:34-35 in which Israel’s house is said to be desolate because she’s rejecting her Messiah. But then it goes on to say, “– until you say ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,’ ” which tells you this is not a permanent exile that we’re talking about; it’s a temporary exile.

We get the same kind of thing in the Olivet Discourse, when Jerusalem is trampled down, “– until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.” Well, you don’t talk about until the times of the Gentiles being fulfilled unless you think there’s another time on the other side of it.

Or you think about the passage in Acts 3, where Peter gets up, and he says, “Heaven must hold the Messiah until the times of refreshing come that have been written about in the holy prophets of old.” So, you’ve got these three until passages, all of which are saying, “Yes, there’s a time in which Israel is suffering judgment for her rejection of Messiah, for her form of covenantal unfaithfulness, but it’s not permanent.” It’s temporary, and it looks forward to a time when there’s going to be a reintroduction.

And then the beauty of this particular example is, not only do we have Jesus teach it, not only do we have Peter teach it, we also have Paul teach it, because, of course, in Romans 9 to 11, we’ve got the anticipation of Israel being grafted back in, when she was grafted out, when Gentiles were grafted in as Paul’s discussion of this period, looking forward to a time when God will be faithful to his promises and will keep his commitment.

So, all of this is important in thinking through the question of, “Has Israel been set aside by anything that’s been done for the Church?” And the biblical answer to that is – it’s one of those questions you can answer in a sort reply. The answer is no.

Mitch Glaser
David Brickner
May it never be.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. So –
Mitch Glaser
Darrell Bock
Mitch Glaser
One of the issues that I know really concerns me, and I’m sure David, ’cause we lead Jewish missions, and the goal – overall the goal that we have is to see Jewish people come to faith, be discipled, and become fruitful servants of the Lord. I mean that’s what it’s all about.

And historically, the greatest motivation for Jewish evangelism has been an understanding of the role of Jewish people in the second coming of Christ. And so, because of passages as you just mentioned, Matthew 23:37-39, particularly 39, and in Luke, where one day we understand that a final remnant of Israel will call out, “Baruch haba beshem Adonai,” or, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and the prophecy of Zachariah 1Mitch Glaser:10, where, ” They will look upon Me, whom they have pierced, mourn for Him as mourn for an only begotten Son,” precipitates the coming of the Lord.

And so, Christians have always been motivated by having the thrill of having at least a part in bringing about the Second Coming of Jesus, even though we don’t know when it would ever happen, but it’s – at least we have a role in participating in God’s end-time activities through bringing the Gospel to the Jewish people.

And when this whole doctrine that Jewish people are not the Jewish people, it’s really a reference to the Church, and so, there really is no end-time sort of inclusion of the Jewish people, that diminishes the motivation for Jewish evangelism. And I will say that this interpretation of Scripture even predates Darby and goes all the way back to the latter Middle Ages. It goes – it was the Scottish Divines –

Darrell Bock
Justin Martyr.
Mitch Glaser
McShane, Fairbane, even our old Cotton Mather in the United States, it was a – almost a Puritan doctrine for a long time that understood that the end-time remnant coming to Christ precipitates the Second Coming of the Messiah, and that causes us to be highly engaged in reaching Jewish people. But when you lose that motivation, it diminishes people’s enthusiasm for Jewish evangelism.
David Brickner
One of the things I like to tell people when we talk about that particular passage is I’m so grateful to God that here I am, 2,000 year later, a Jew who has said, “Baruch haba beshem Adonai.”

And so, it’s not like John Ryle said, “The Jews have been reserved and preserved for some time in the future.” God did not set aside the Jewish people in that He is no longer working with them. He is. Paul was so insistent there is to this very –

Darrell Bock
Always a remnant.
David Brickner
– day –
Darrell Bock
David Brickner
And that remnant theology needs to be rediscovered by the Church today, because it’s a jewel in the crown of the blessing of God for all people, and it’s an evidence of His ongoing work. It helps us to understand, “How is it possible that Israel can be back in the land and yet in unbelief?” Well, guess what? The greatest openness to the Gospel now among any Jewish group is in the land of Israel.

And so, that’s indication for believers who are keeping their finger on the pulse of what God is doing in the world. Yeah, we have been reserved and preserved, but not like pickles in a jar. We are in the midst of seeing an historical move of God, and we need to see the signs of the times and get excited and reinvest our faith and confidence in the Gospel as “– the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.”

Darrell Bock
M-kay. Well, we’ve kind of made the case here that the Scripture has a place for Israel – has a permanent place for Israel, that there are commitments and promises that God has made to Israel through the Hebrew Scriptures that He keeps forever. It’s a reflection of His faithfulness.

I’ve tried to put all the themes together here in one paragraph, but let’s deal with one objection – and this is, I think, all we have time left to discuss – and that’s this, “Well, it really isn’t Israel through whom blessing comes; it’s through the Christ, the Messiah. And the means of blessing, the bridge to blessing is through Jesus, not Israel.

“So, why should we expect Israel to have a place when she has rejected that Messiah and the basis of inclusion is not coming through Israel; it’s coming through her Messiah. So, if anyone’s in Christ, they clearly are in the place of blessing. Israel is not in the place of blessing, so why not say the Church has replaced Israel?”

There it is; I’ve asked it. Now, how do we deal with that position? David?

David Brickner
Well, I think that there’s no argument from Scripture for that. First of all, that’s kind of a syllogism that is unrelated to any particular text that I’m aware of.
Darrell Bock
You mean the replacement idea?
David Brickner
Darrell Bock
David Brickner
And the language of the Scriptures concerning this has to do with the wild and natural branches of Romans Chapter 11. And the wild branches are everyone who’s not Jewish, who has become grafted into the rich root of the olive tree. And yes, branches were broken off. So, I think, you know, all that Paul does in that beautiful picture and what that means has to be the basis on which we understand that and answer that objection.
Darrell Bock
And Israel’s not being defined in – redefined in Romans 9 to 11; I think it’s very important to make this point. Israel’s not being redefined in Romans 9 to 11, because that chapter opens with Paul saying, “I’m weeping over the people that I’m talking about. These are people that I wish myself would be accursed that they would be responsive.”

So, we’re not talking about an Israel reconstituted as the Church when we talk about Israel in Romans 9 to 11, we’re talking particularly about that portion of Israel, that large portion of Israel, if I can say it that way, that up to this point has not been responsive to the Gospel and that Paul longs for a time when they will be responsive.

So, when we talk about the natural branches and those that are broken away, that’s the context. That can’t be the Church. In fact, Cranfield, who’s written one of the more important commentaries on Romans, and it comes out of a reformed tradition in doing so, basically introduced his section on Romans 9 to 11 by saying that his tradition had badly, consistently misread this text when they make that transfer in this passage; it just can’t work there.

Mitch, once again, I can tell that you’re chomping at the bit to chime in, so go ahead.

Mitch Glaser
Well, I’m pretty good with everything you’ve said. Just some obvious points and that is I don’t really want to be the person that starts debating whether or not our greatest blessings are all in Christ, because they are. And so, it’s just that if all the blessings are in, so to speak, the ultimate Israel, that still doesn’t mean that the people that God chose had been dismissed from duty.

And so, one is not at the exclusion of other, but Jesus is everything to all of us, and He is the ultimate fulfillment, and He is the Bridegroom of Israel. So, I’m not gonna be the kind of person that says, “Oh, no, no, no, there are a lot of other blessings outside of Jesus because He is the ultimate and greatest blessing.” But He is the one who also said that, “You will see Me when you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.’ ”

So, Jesus, who might be the promise and fulfillment and the ultimate fulfillment and blessings for all that God wants us to have is the very one who said that a remnant will turn at the end of days. And so, that would put Jesus in disagreement with Himself.

Darrell Bock
Probably not a good position to be.
Mitch Glaser
You follow me?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, I got that, yeah. So – go ahead.
Mitch Glaser
No, I’m just saying – and so, we’re dealing with a promise and fulfillment theology, which is common today and advocated by N. T. Wright and a lot of other people, and we understand that these are smart and godly people, and we have to also deal with text by text by text.

But I think we, again, have to address the basic hermeneutics and the way that a lot of these dear brothers and sisters approach Scripture. And we’re allowed to, with love, contend with each other.

And so, when I look at promise and fulfillment, I can’t get away from the fact that God made a promise to Abraham, and that God has fulfilled that promise to the Jewish people first of all in bringing Jesus, the Messiah, and secondly in bringing the Jewish people to the land, and then finally, in bringing Jewish people in the land back to the Messiah, and then Messiah returning and reigning as King.

I think it’s a great story, Darrell, and if it’s taken literally, it’s much better.

Darrell Bock
So, the point here is that that we need to be careful not to shortchange all it is that God has done. God has definitely centered salvation in Israel’s Messiah, in Jesus who is the Christ. That’s for sure, and we affirm that, and we affirm – everybody is affirming that.

The question then is what has that Christ committed Himself to do in the midst of that salvation? And part of what that Christ has committed Himself to do in the midst of that salvation is to show God’s faithfulness to the original commitments that God made, back in the Abrahamic Covenant, to redeem the people to whom He made the original promise, and the inclusion of others is not to their exclusion.

David Brickner
Not only that –
Mitch Glaser
Darrell Bock
David Brickner
Not only that, I think it’s important to state very positively, and I know you all agree with this, that the Abrahamic Covenant is not, for the Jewish people, the basis of their salvation, but the New Covenant in Jesus. And that those who would, for example, take that verse in Romans 11, “– and thus all Israel will be saved,” and conclude that by being born Jewish I just have an automatic pass, they’ve missed the whole context of that, which is a future context yet to be revealed.

And in the meantime –

Darrell Bock
And a responsiveness to Jesus in the midst of it.
David Brickner
It is exactly that moment of responsiveness that seals the deal, so to speak. And in the meantime, Jewish people who are apart from faith and trust in Jesus, whether in the land of Israel or outside the land of Israel, are just as lost as any other people.

And therefore, putting Jewish evangelism back on the front burner of the Church as it was in the first century, when Paul said, “The Gospel is to the Jew first,” and where he practiced that in his own Gentile-focused evangelism is something that I believe will be a sign of the hermeneutics that Mitch is talking about so well being corrected and our recognizing that the Church has a primary responsibility to the first-born.

You know, you mentioned Cranfield. John Calvin even when he comments on Romans 11, and who also obviously believes in this kind of replacement theology nevertheless preserves a place of prominence. He says in that Israel is – the Jewish people are the first-born of Israel. All the promises that God made to them will certainly be fulfilled.

Now, I don’t accept his view of Jewish people just being the first-born; I make that distinction. But even among those who have this replacement theology, their forefathers, so to speak, in the Reformation, recognized God wasn’t done with the Jewish people. And what the implication is of that for the Church today has been lost on many who have this mixed-up hermeneutic that Mitch was talking about.

Darrell Bock
So, we’ve got – I just want to be clear for people, ’cause we’ve kind of dealt with two things at once here, and I just want to make sure that they clearly distinguish on the one hand we’ve got people who are arguing for a replacement theology which says, “The Church has replaced the role of Israel. So, Israel doesn’t have a future, doesn’t need a future.” That’s one side of the spectrum.

But you alluded to, briefly, another group that says, “Well, you don’t need to evangelize to the Jews, because they’re already in covenant and God’s taking care of them. They don’t need to embrace the Messiah because they already have their relationship through covenant.”

And so, you’re basically saying, “We don’t think either of those positions is actually a reflection of what the Scripture is teaching.”

David Brickner
Yeah, I would go so far as to say that’s a lie from the pit of Hell. I really feel strong about it, because they think that they’re showing love and tolerance towards Jewish people when they take up that position, but they’re ultimately refusing to give the greatest gift, the most demonstrable act of God’s love toward the Jewish people by withholding Jesus from them.
Darrell Bock
Because this is the – that God has taken on the price for our failures on Himself, and we are robbing people of that substitutionary work when we make that declaration that they automatically qualify.
David Brickner
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
Mitch, anything to add?
Mitch Glaser
Not particularly. I mean I think it’s obvious that there are a lot of Christians who – actually who love the Jewish people and who have Jewish friends and want to be sensitive to the Jewish people. Some have lulled themselves into an evangelistic sleep, into thinking that somehow Jewish people have another chance in the end times, or that Jewish people would be judged on a different basis than non-Jews. And most of the people who do that I find are not well taught, but they have a lot of love for Jewish people.

And then you have a whole other group that sees the Jewish people basically being included in the Church and losing all theological and ethnic distinctiveness and even forgetting that in Heaven, every tongue and every tribe will have a voice in worship and some people make it out as if Hebrew won’t even exist in that day.

And so, I think we need a good balance of it. But again, I think that the importance or one very practical step that I know that we all should take is to encourage a good, solid, biblical teaching, not to overreact, not to say that people do not love the Jewish people or there’s something wrong.

I really believe that we need to do more biblical teaching on the subject of God’s role and plan for Israel and God’s role and purpose for the Church. One is not exclusive of the other. God is glorified through both.

Darrell Bock
Well, I appreciate you all taking the time to interact with this topic. We started with anti-Semitism and then took a good look at some of the key texts that show that Israel has a future in Scripture and that she hasn’t been set aside or replaced.

I know we’ve only scratched the surface of this topic. We did a conference in New York a few months ago in which we had multiple hour-long presentations on various aspects of this topic, working through systematically the Scriptures. So, there’s a lot more here, and I’m sure we’ll come back to this topic in the future.

But I really do appreciate you taking the time to be with us today, and we hope that it’s been helpful to those of you who have joined use here on The Table podcast where we discuss issues of God and culture.

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Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than forty books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
David Brickner
David Brickner is executive director of Jews for Jesus. David oversees the world-wide ministry from its headquarters in San Francisco. David received his Master’s degree in Missiology with a concentration in Jewish Evangelism and Judaic Studies from the Fuller School of World Mission. He has authored several books, and has been interviewed on national television shows such as Larry King Live.
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