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 The Mystery of Israel and the Church: Art Katz - a critique

The Mystery of Israel and the Church: Art Katz
Chapter 1 - An Overview of the Mystery

Quote:
his letter to the Church in Rome is distinguished by the fact that it is the most comprehensive, systematic statement of his apostolic theology and view of the faith. And the subject most central and dear to Paul, and that to which he gives the most specific attention, is found in chapters nine through eleven—the mystery of Israel and the Church.


Surely this is not the 'most central and dear to Paul' subject within the letter to the Romans. The subject that is most central and dear is the 'gospel' with which he has been entrusted and his resulting 'indebtedness' to Greeks and Barbarians, wise and unwise. The opening part of the body of Romans (following the salutation) is that the same gospel is for allFor I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16 KJV) This is the burden of debt that Paul carries; there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek other than in the chronology of their opportunity. Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:22-23 KJV) For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (Rom 10:12 KJV)

The mistake that Art is making in his interpretation is to treat Romans 9-11 as though it were a self-contained thesis on the relationship of the Church and Israel-in-the-flesh. It is not. These chapters are the follow-on of what has gone before as he repitition of the phrase 'there is no difference' makes clear.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/20 13:06Profile
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 Re: The Mystery of Israel and the Church: Art Katz - a critique

Quote:
In other words, Paul’s fascination and preoccupation with the subject of Israel is not due to his being Jewish, but due to his profound apostolic jealousy for the glory of God.



This quotation summarises one of my main concerns about much that is said on this topic. My Bible has 89 pages credited to Paul; of these 89 the chapters Rom 9-11 occupy 3. Please do the percentages and ask the question 'who is fascinated and preoccupied with the subject of Israel?' Paul or Art?


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/20 14:19Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
The identity of the Church, we believe, cannot be known in any deeply authentic way except in conjunction with its relationship to Israel. The same thing is equally true for Israel; her identity cannot be realized independent of that of the Church!



The identity of 'Israel' is the key problem with interpretation of Romans 9-11. Paul introduces this section by referring to his burden for his kinsfolk. He specifically calls them ...my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: (Rom 9:3 KJV). Paul, of course, was part of the family of the church but wanted to make it quite plain who he has in mind in this section; he does so by referring to my kinsmen according to the flesh. This is similar to a clarification that we find elsewhere; Behold Israel after the flesh: are not they which eat of the sacrifices partakers of the altar? (1Co 10:18 KJV). The phrase 'kata sarka' simply means 'with reference to the flesh' or 'from a human perspective'. He would not have had need to use the phrase if there had not been 'another Israel' which was not 'according to the flesh'. In other words, a spiritual Isreal.

In Romans 9 Paul lays the foundation for the next chapters. He begins by speaking about his 'kinsmen according to the flesh'and then says plainly that these are Israelites. [Rom 9:4] He refers to the key blessings of the Israelites as a people; who are Israelites; whose is the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the law-giving, and the service, and the promises; whose are the fathers; and of whom, as according to flesh, is the Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.(Rom 9:4-5 Darby) He then immediately answers an unspoken thought. It is always a dangerous thing to try to guess an unspoken thought from the answer but it was probably along the lines of... 'they had so much but it seems as if it were all a waste'. His response, whatever the question, is a vital starting point in the identifying of 'Israel' in this section of scripture. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:(Rom 9:6 KJV) He declares that 'they are not all Israel that originated from Israel'.(the preposition 'ek' means 'out of') How would we show this graphically? To begin, create a large circle with a smaller one inside it. The large circle is "Israel according to the flesh"; Paul's blood kin; he just calls it Israel. But the smaller sub-set circle is also to be called Israel; we can distinguish this from the larger circle by calling it the "Israel of God". In his explanation it begins within "Israel according to the flesh".

But what is it that makes it possible to distinguish between these two Israels? And here we need to remember that Romans is the Gospel according to Paul and that he began the letter by making it very clear what the essence of that was; For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom 1:16 KJV). This gospel is the power of God to salvation to every believing person. It is the power of God to salvation to everyone who is a believer; this is not just an initial moment of faith. (it is the present participle of 'believe' preceded by the definite article. It implies the 'believing one'.) The essential attribute of the "Israel of God" is that their life is the result of promise believed; not genetics. And the promise does not automatically pass down the genetic line; Abraham had other children but not as the result of promise believed. So we might have thought that the line will no automatically continue through Isaac and his children, but it doesn't . It only continues down the line of Jacob/Israel. Paul is tracing faith here.

In fact, we discover that our graphic representation is not yet complete. The smaller circle now expands and becomes a circle that is no longer only inside the first circle; we now have two intersecting circles. The second circle now includes some who were never inside the first circle; Gentiles. The second circle which began inside the first now has a unique identity; it is the "Israel of God". It includes some who were in the first circle but it also excludes some who were in the first circle. This "Israel of God" is not based on racial lines.

When Paul speaks of the way in which God's purposes have been accomplished he refers to the way that individuals have either cooperated or opposed God. God's purposes triumph irrespective of men's choices but the two groups are referred to as 'vessels of wrath' and 'vessels of mercy'. When he refers to 'vessels of mercy' he makes it clear that he is not just thinking about his own blood-kin; And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. (Rom 9:23-26 KJV) This is a quotation from Hosea which is used elsewhere in the New Testament.(1 Pet 2:10) It refers to a time when God's people would be 'deconstitued' and would no longer bear the name of God's people, and when non-constituted group of people would become the 'constituted' people of God. The pattern is clear. Not others added but the first group de-constituted and then a group 'constituted' as God's people.

The demolition part of this was accomplished by the cross; but now in Christ Jesus *ye* who once were afar off are become nigh by the blood of the Christ. For *he* is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of enclosure, having annulled the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments in ordinances, that he might form the two in himself into one new man, making peace; (Eph 2:13-15 Darby) His purpose in breaking down the separation between Jew and Gentile was to make something new. He broke down the hedge which separated "Israel according to the flesh" by bringing the covenant to an end that 'constituted' them as God's people. He reconciled 'both' to God in one body by the cross. and the dynamic of the 'new man' or the newly-constituted people of God is made effective through the work of the Spirit; and, coming, he has preached the glad tidings of peace to you who were afar off, and the glad tidings of peace to those who were nigh. For through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father. (Eph 2:17-18 Darby) and For also in the power of one Spirit *we* have all been baptised into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bondmen or free, and have all been given to drink of one Spirit. (1Co 12:13 Darby)

In the interpretation of the remainder of these chapter we shall need to keep in mind Paul's identifying definition of "all Israel".

The order of the scripture is quite clear; He de-constituted the first, before He newly-constituted the second. The writer to Hebrews captures the same thought; Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.(Heb 10:9 KJV)


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/20 16:17Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
God takes the most foolish, the most despicable and the most distasteful thing to the Church, which is the unsaved Jew, and makes him a major key to the Church’s sanity and character. And the Church, composed essentially of Gentiles, likewise the most foolish, the most despicable and the most distasteful thing to an unsaved Jew, is the instrumentality and the chosen agency of God for Israel’s deliverance and restoration in the Last Days.



Give none offence,
• neither to the Jews,
• nor to the Gentiles,
• nor to the church of God:
(1Co 10:32 KJV)

tick the box of the group you are part of...
just one tick now... ;-)


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/20 16:30Profile
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 Re:

Ron,

Thank you for posting your opinion on this matter.

I have a question. Considering that the Church has been grafted into Israel's tree and is now the so called "Israel of God", does that necessarily mean that the Church [i]is[/i] Israel? Also, is there then no possibility of a distinct national destiny for the nation Israel that is related to the Church? Oops , I guess that's two questions.

In Christ,

Ron


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Ron Halverson

 2004/9/20 21:14Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I have a question. Considering that the Church has been grafted into Israel's tree and is now the so called "Israel of God", does that necessarily mean that the Church is Israel? Also, is there then no possibility of a distinct national destiny for the nation Israel that is related to the Church? Oops , I guess that's two questions.


Hi Ron
Your first question holds a fundamental assumption which I often challenge. I would question it like so; what is the root? If we think about the heart of this section; And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; (Rom 11:17 KJV) If you follow the image you will see that some branches were left behind when those unbelieving branches were broken off. Then Gentile believers were grafted in among them This means that, in the image, we have believing Jewish branches and believing Gentile branches. But all these are branches; whatis the root?

I think the root is Abraham, or more precisely Abrahamic faith which is the great theme of Romans. Yes, "Israel in the flesh" had natural link with Abraham, and in the older order their were two essentials to identification as the people of God; And the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham, which he had being yet uncircumcised. (Rom 4:12 KJV) The natural branches required both circumcision and Abrahamic faith. (this is why it is so important to read Rom 9-11 in the context of the whole of Romans rather than as a self contained excursis) The tree in Romans 9 may well be called 'Israel's Tree' but it is plain that the tree is not 'Israel' as the root is bearing the branches and not the other way about. The Gentile branches must not boast against the root; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Rom 11:18 KJV) Notice 'boast not against the branches' not 'against the root'. Which branches? well surely the broken off branches which were broken off, specifically, because of unbelief. We are very solidly on the Roman's central theme of faith here.

As to your specific question; is the Church 'Israel'? Well, my apologies, but it all depends on what you mean by Israel!! :-( It is not the old Israel that was de-constituted, but it is the new Israel. What then of the promises given to old Israel? Well were they given to "Israel according to the flesh" or "Israel according to the Spirit"; surely they were carried on the lives of the remnant. But even that remnant was de-constituted and then a new Israel, that had not been a people, was constituted.

The old Israel (according to the flesh) was a physical earthly people with physical and earthly promises. Israel as a nation was constituted at Sinai and their keeping of the Sinai covenant was the condition to their gaining and keeping the land. The new Israel is a spiritual people with spiritual promises. If the new Israel were an earthly people it would be appropraite to call this 'replacement theology', but it is not an earthly people and this view is not 'replacement theology' but 'fulfillment theology.

Let me illustrate one of my difficulties; And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. (Eze 36:23-25 KJV) Some time ago I was talking to a passionate believer in the need for Israel to return to the land as a prerequisite to the final revival. They must return to their land, he said, before they can receive their new covenant. So, I said, you believe this verse I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. requires a literal fulfillment? Absolutely, he said. Well, said I, what of the next sentence? Do you expect a literal sprinking with clean water? Of course not, he said, that is a spiritual picture. But if the second is spiritual why not the first? How can we justify changing our interpretation horse half way across this stream?

Now your second question.
Quote:
Also, is there then no possibility of a distinct national destiny for the nation Israel that is related to the Church?

I'm sorry to be so fussy but terms are vital if we are not to cause misunderstanding. By 'national' are we talking about the 'ethnic group' or the 'nation state'. I have previously commented that the thrust of the Bible is towards 'people groups' rather than 'nation states'. There is another assumption that many Christians make. (It may be right but I shall need convincing.) This is that there is a continuity between ancient Israel and the modern Israeli Nation State. I think that is quite an assumption. Jesus specifically predicted a time of nationalistic resurgence which has implications for the whole world; And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. (Luk 21:29-30 KJV) You will see that in Luke's account the reference is not to the fig tree uniquely but to 'all the trees'. There has been an assumption that the partition of Palestine by the United Nations and the creation of the Israeli Nation State is a fulfillment of this prediction. Have we not noticed how many 'nation states' have been re-established in the last 50 years? I have a globe of the world that I had at school in the 1940s. (it is mostly 'pink' showing the British Empire!! I'll attach a list to the end of this posting.) The world of the 21st is very different to my schoolboy globe. I have no means of finding out how many nation states have come into existence in my lifetime but I suspect it is almost the whole of Africa and much of the middle East. Certainly 'all the trees' have been 'shooting forth'. I regard the Israeli Nation State as part of this phenomena, not necessarily as something unique in itself. The process continues... in the UK we have now have separate Scottish Parliament. Chechnya, the Kurds, the Punjab.. the list goes on an on. This is an extraordinary phenomena which seems to have been hardly noticed by Bible students.

Is there then no possibility of a dstinct national destiny for the nation Israel...? Yes, I think there is more than a possibility... and for Uganda and Zimbabwe and Tanzania and Kuwait and Yemin... I believe God has a 'national destiny' for the US and Canada and for the UK, in the sense of a plan and a purpose. Whether the nations will fulfil their destiny of fail like ancient Israel is another matter.

At its height, the British Empire consisted of the following territory - (most of these are now separate nation-states usually with a new name)
Africa

* Bechuanaland
* British Togoland
* Cameroon
* Gold Coast
* Egypt [ Al Arabia Arabian portal / Egypt Travel & Hotels ]
* Kenya
* Nigeria
* Northern Rhodesia
* Sierra Leone
* Somaliland
* South Africa
* Southern Rhodesia
* South West Africa
* Sudan
* Tanganyika
* Uganda

The Americas and Atlantic

* Ascension Island
* British Guiana
* British Honduras
* Canada
* Falkland Islands
* Newfoundland
* West Indies
o Anguilla
o Antigua and Barbuda
o Bahamas [ Bahamas Travel Guide ]
o Barbados
o Bermuda
o British Virgin Islands
o Cayman Islands
o Dominica
o Grenada
o Jamaica
o Montserrat
o Saint Kitts and Nevis
o Saint Lucia
o Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
o Trinidad and Tobago
o Turks and Caicos Islands
* St Helena
* Tristan da Cunha
* South Georgia

Antarctica

* British Antarctic Territory

Asia

*
* Bhutan
* British New Guinea
* Brunei
* Burma
* Ceylon
* Hong Kong
* India
* Iraq [ Al Arabia Arabian portal / Al Hajj Tips ]
* Kuwait
* Malaya
* Maldives
* Palestine
* Nepal
* North Borneo
* Oman
* Qatar
* Sarawak
* Singapore
* Transjordan
* Trucial States

Europe

* Cyprus
* Gibraltar
* Malta
* United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland

Pacific

* Australia
* Ellice Islands
* Fiji
* Gilbert Islands
* Nauru
* New Zealand
* Pitcairn
* Solomon Islands
* Tonga



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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/21 4:33Profile
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 Re:

I came across this quotation today in a book I was reading on the topic of the inspiration of scripture. It is the kind of truth we need to keep in our minds all the time when we are discussing topics of this nature.

"History is at best an approximation to truth based upon an incomplete inductive study of the facts. Theology is a fallible human attempt to co-ordinate the data of revelation."

This is the sense I frequently try to convey with my little sign off 'WKIP' "we know it part".


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/21 6:17Profile
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 Re:

Philo:

You said you "I think the root is Abraham".

I would think that the "root" would be Christ.

Romans 11:16b - and if the root be holy, the branches are too.

Isaiah 11:10 - Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse.

Revelation 5:5b - the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.

Maybe the topic of the root should be in a different post, I don't know.

Anyway, we are grafted into Christ through faith. We are grafted into the root which is Christ. Apart from Christ we can do nothing, bear no true fruit. A basic understanding of the grafting process tells us that a seed from a fuji apple cannot produce a apple tree that will bear a true fuji apple. A branch from a wild fuji apple tree that is grafted into a true fuji apple tree root can bear a true fuji apple.

Just the same we as wild branches cannot bear true fruit that gives glory to Jesus Christ unless we are grafted into the root which is Christ. John 15:1-11 gives us a good picture of the purpose of the grafting in.

These are just some of my thoughts on the root and perhaps I am wrong or way off. I know the topic is more on about the subject of Israel and Art Katz's theology of it. I have little to say about this subject because I do not feel qualified or very knowledgeable on it. I have many questions about it and about what Art says concerning it.

If the subject of the root needs to be moved then can someone do that.

God bless,

Mike


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Mike

 2004/9/21 8:32Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
I have a question. Considering that the Church has been grafted into Israel's tree and is now the so called "Israel of God", does that necessarily mean that the Church is Israel? Also, is there then no possibility of a distinct national destiny for the nation Israel that is related to the Church? Oops , I guess that's two questions.



Simple answer? "This is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days saith the Lord..." (Jeremiah 31:33). And again, "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises... Whose [are] the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ [came], who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen." (Romans 9:4-5).


I sat through two sessions yesterday and heard Art Katz speak on this topic and the profound depth of understanding that Art has eschatologically (of end time events) is staggering. I want to be clear here, as I think my last statement was an understatement, the significance of what God has done with Israel over the centuries and will continue to do is vital to understanding anything about God and His dealings with man; I have always known that, but listening to a comprehensive articulation of how these things play out prophetically is a real eye opener. I really believe we are in kindergarten in our understanding of what God is doing with Isreal and the Church. Dispensationalism, pretrib-, midtrib, posttrib, pre-wrath, rapturism, preterism, and partial preterism and a host of other 'isms' have left something to be desired in God's masterplan to redeem man.

Suffice it to say for now that so much of what we see going wrong today in the Church is because we are not honest in our seeking of truth- yet we think we are until God reveals our own motives and in turn overthrows our reasonings. We set limits and parameters on how we think things should be. This is what wrecked many peoples faith in the time of Christ- they had Messianic concepts about WHAT Christ (the Messiah) would do when He came and when He did not fit their conceptions of Messianic and do their interpretation of prophesy they abandoned Him and handed Him over to the Romans. Understand that the Jews knew the WHEN, but they didn't know the WHAT. they thought they knew the WHEN AND WHAT. We as the Church think we know much of the WHEN AND WHAT as to Christ's second coming. Books fill Walmart stores and bible book stores telling everyone what is coming. God help us.

Art is a voice crying in the wilderness "prepare the way of the Lord." Although there are perhaps areas that I may disagree with him- the overall message of what he is saying is extremely potent and powerful in our day. I have heard a lot of preachers and have even sat under Messianic teachings- yet the truth of what he is saying concerning God's dealings with Isreal are far beyond what I have ever heard admitted. The closest to him that I have heard to challenge the Jewish people and tradition has been Daniel Gruber. But to challenge them is to challenge the Church also. Are we are bride that hath made herself ready? Are our garments spotless and white as snow? Are we a bride prepared for the bridegroom? The issues are almost overwhelming.

God Bless,

-Robert


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Robert Wurtz II

 2004/9/21 8:39Profile
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 Re:

Quote:
Simple answer? "This is the covenant that I will make with the House of Israel after those days saith the Lord..." (Jeremiah 31:33).



But this is the New Covenant which is 'not like' the covenant that I made with their fathers... This New Covenant is to be made, according to Jer 31:31, with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, but we know that the house of Israel became subsumed into the house of Judah and that Judah became the inheritors of the promises to the nation of Israel. It is not the words but the interpretation of them which is the problem. The house of Israel ,ie the Northern Tribes were dispersed into Assyrian captivity and 'lost' 150 years before Jeremiah gave this prophecy. How can this New Covenant be with the literal 'house of Israel'?

There are many aspects of biblical interpretation where godly men disagree. Some of these are core values and some are on the margins. We have had a discussion on the 'spirits in prison' recently. That would be on the margins; it will have little consequence whoever is right. But there are core values; justification by faith, regeneration etc where is it much more important to get things right, and the scriptures are very plain about these issues. There is little fundamental difference between bible Christians on these matters. The core and the margins are different and we need to move from the core to the margins in our biblical understanding, so that the solid truth of the core is not diluted by the speculative truth at the margins.

I think the main difficulty I have with Art is that he is moving from the margins to the core. He is 'fascinated and preoccupied' (his description of Paul) with the Jewish Issue. This is dangerous because it establishes fixed points on the margins which can seriously affect the core truths. All teaching is based on moving from the known to the unknown. The real 'fascination and preoccupation' of Paul is not on the Jewish Issue but on the faith that justifies the ungodly, uncircumcised, un-Jewish, and the same faith that justifies the circumcised and Jewish. His faith paradym is Abraham, un-circumcises and un-Jewish. This core truth has to be held through the rest of our interpretation of Romans. To make Romans 9-11 the means of understanding the purposes of God in the core of Romans is to get the tail wagging the dog.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/9/21 10:24Profile





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