5 Stars Out Of 5
Significant book on the Subject
September 28, 2014
Review: THE PEOPLE, THE LAND, AND THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL Editors Darrell L. Bock and Mitch Glaser, Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, 2014.
There could not be a better time for the publication of this book. Israel and the conflict in the Middle East have renewed the interest in what the Bible teaches concerning this nation. It is also a time where there has been an increased support for the Palestinian political view. The book is an outgrowth of a conference of the same name in October 2013 by pastors, theologians, and biblical scholars. It is a call of support and to clarify what the Bible teaches about the people and land. This book is the publication of the subjects covered in that conference.
This fresh look concerning Israel is divided into sections:
Hebrew Scriptures. This section is subdivided in 4 chapters:
1. Israel according to the Torah (Eugene Merrill). Showing that the nation of Israel is founded upon the unconditional covenants which guarantee they will be redeemed and returned to the land to fulfill these covenants.
2. Israel according to the Writings (Walter Kaiser Jr). He continues the trajectory from the Torah, seeing the continuation and climax with the Davidic Covenant and its emphasis on the coming kingdom. The emphasis is on the reunited Israel.
3. Israel according to the Prophets (Robert b. Chisholm Jr). The trajectory of the prophets vision is that of Israels future restoration. The prophets gave the main features as return, reunification, repentance, restoration, and worship of the nations. The prophets looked forward to fulfillment.
4. The People and Land of Israel in Jewish Tradition (Michael L. Brown). This deals with the Jewish understanding of the Old Testament Scriptures.
New Testament. This section is also subdivided into 4 chapters.
5. Israel according to the Gospels (Michael J. Wilkins). Wilkins centers mostly on Matthew. There are two vital truths that he brings out. First, the disciples preach the messianic aspects of the kingdom. Second, Israel was not replaced by the church. The future of the messianic kingdom stands. There is still an eschatological fulfillment for Israel, including both the land of the kingdom and the mediation of the kingdom.
6. Israel in Luke-Acts (Darrell L. Bock). He points out that though Luke-Acts has not changed, Israels story has not changed in its hope. Gentile inclusion did not mean Israels exclusion from Gods future plans.
7. The Jewish people according to the book of Romans (Michael G. Vanlaningham). He rejects that the Church fulfills the eschatological promises of Israel. He sees Romans as a key to the future of Israel, especially Romans 4; 9; 11; 15. He attempts to show continuity between the Old Testament and Paul concerning Israel. To me this is the key chapter of the book for the future positionworthy of time and study.
8. Israel according to the book of Hebrews and the General Epistles (Graig A. Evans). He deals with authorship of these epistles showing clear Jewish authorship of these books. He shows that each epistle identified ethnic Israel explicitly or implicitly
Hermeneutics, Theology, and Church History
9. Israel and Hermeneutics (Craig A. Blaising). He points out that how one perceives the end of the story will affect how one perceives the whole story. In this chapter he recaps the historical approaches to Scripture. He concludes any approach need a holistic eschatology which includes the fulfillment of all of Gods promises.
10. Israel as a necessary theme in Biblical Theology (Mark R Saucy). Dr Saucy traces the fabric of Israel that is woven throughout Biblical history and story. It is an unfinished but not unknown.
11. Israel in the Land as an Eschatological Necessity? (John S. Feinberg). To me this is one of the best chapters of the book. Feinberg shows that the OT Prophecies demand a literal fulfillment of Israel being in the land. He keys on Daniel 9, Zechariah 12, and Isaiah 19, which all predict end-time events that involve national Israel.
12. Israel in Church History (Michael J. Vlach). This is an overview of how the church has viewed Israel over time. He centers upon the concepts replacement and restoration conflict and traces it in the history of the church.
13. Israel in light of the Holocaust (Barry R. Leventhal). Today, when the Holocaust remembrance is being lost, Dr. Lenenthal shows the significance of this event in present events and thinking.
14. The Jewish people: Evidence for the Truth of Scripture (Michael Rydelnik). The only hope for finding a reason for Israels continued existence is through the Bible. Civilizations have come and gone, but Israel remains. It is a tribute to the preservation, power, and faithfulness of God. This should lead all believers to give God the glory for his faithfulness, to trust Gods Word, and to stand up for the Jewish people.
15. Israel and Jewish Evangelism today (Mitch Glaser). He pleads that the eschatological argument should motivate us to evangelize the Jewish people, not to minimize it.
16. Israel and the Local Pastor (David Epstein). He serves in a Jewish community of New York. This chapter is somewhat a testimony as to why a local pastor should reach out to the Jews. With him it is personal, moral, political (i.e. the smart thing), and Biblical. What was interesting to me was his comments concerning Islam. It is the most inspiring chapter in the book.
17. A survey of Positions on Israel Currently Taught at Theological Schools (Gregory Hagg). Results of this survey were not surprising. It clearly shows a waning of the importance of Israel and its future in todays seminaries. However, I would suggest it is worst than indicated, since only 14 out of 70 schools responded. Not sure why this chapter was added except to show the reason for the overall waning of the subject among the pulpits of today. It could have been omitted without taking away from the overall significance of the book.
18. Conclusion (Darrell L. Bock). This chapter deals with why this subject matters. He draws five conclusions from this book.
I took the time to survey each chapter for the reader of this review because I wanted to show the vital subjects it deals with, and the tone of the book. It represents some of the best thinking from a premillennial and dispensational view. The value of the book is seen in its depth of the subjects covered. It is also intended to be studied not simple read. Each chapter ends with study questions to stimulate the reader. I would encourage everyone interested in eschatology, no matter their viewpoint, to read and study this book. That is not to say that the book is without some weaknesses, for example I wonder why there was no study of Pauline thought, except for Romans. Key as that chapter is, I think the book needs a stronger emphasis on Pauline thought. Also more could have been said on unity and disunity between the church and Israel. There is also no chapter on the book of Revelation showing the climax of the promise to the people, the land, and the future of Israel in its fulfillment. However this does not hinder the importance of the overall significance of the book.
I found it stimulating to both reevaluate my own position on the subject and do further study. It is also a timely study that was sorely needed in light of the theological and political atmosphere of today. It should be in every Pastors and Bible students shelf.
[I received this book free from Kregel Academic in exchange for the review. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions are my own].