The issue of Israel and the land promises is one of the on-going critical issues of theology and eschatology. I recently received an email question, and am posting my response below.
From: “Jeff “
Sent: Tuesday, August 16, 2011 2:38 PM
Subject: Land Promise
Dispensationalist argue that the Land Promise is key to end time Prophecy; although we know that Jesus and his Apostles did not say anything that would make us Believe that Jesus is going to put Jews back in their land “forever” due to a covenant that cannot be broken.
Response: The dispensational claims about the land promises are totally misplaced. Take note of just a few of the problems:
1.) They claim that the land promises have never been fulfilled, yet, this is patently false. Scripture is explicit that all of the land promises were fulfilled, just as promised. In my book Israel 1948 Countdown to NoWhere, I document this beyond refutation.
2.) They say that God gave Israel that land “forever” and insist that this demands they have an unending right to the land. However, the Hebrew word translated as “forever” (Olam) does not demand the meaning of “endless.” In fact, millennialists themselves agree that many of the cultic practices of Torah, i.e. the animal sacrifices, levitical priesthood, etc., all of which were given as “eternal” ordinances, have in fact been abrogated and annulled by God in Christ. Thus, they admit that “forever” does note mean endlessly and this falsifies their claims about the land.
3.) The possession of the land was purely conditional on obedience to Torah, the Law of Moses (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28-30) and even the most ardent of dispensationalists admit that God has removed the law of Moses! Thus, the prerequisite for possession of the land has been removed by God Himself.
What exactly is the Biblical result of the Land Promise to Israel?
Response: Here is where the dispensationalists totally miss the mark. They place all of their emphasis on the literal dirt, whereas in scripture, everything about Israel, the land, the city, the temple, the priesthood, etc. were all typological of better things to come.
The dispensationalists make the land the ultimate goal, when the heavenly country and heavenly city were the ultimate and true “land.” (Hebrews 11:13-16). This is a critical truth and yet, virtually ignored by the dispensationalists. I develop this entire theme in my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory. I think when people see this one fundamental truth, that it totally destroys any emphasis on the land.
The book of Hebrews is very emphatic that what the Old Covenant system anticipated and typified was on the verge of fulfillment, and the Old was “nigh unto passing away.” The Old Covenant city was passing, the priesthood, the sacrifices, etc. were now obsolete and ready to vanish. Whereas the dispensationalists claim that the city, temple, priesthood, etc will be restored, Hebrews knows nothing of such a doctrine. Those things foreshadowed Christ and his kingdom, not the re-establishment of another literal cultus.
I know this is a big subject and time is limited but if you have time maybe you can shed some light on the subject.
Jesus and the New Testament writers were perfectly clear on the AD 70 fulfillment. So much so that I became a Preterist about 15 years before I ever heard that there was such a view. Back before everyone was online we were limited to our own hermeneutical skills (Although most of us had not even heard that word before). I thought I was the only one who believed in an Ad 70 fulfillment until I met a Preterist about 7 or 8 years ago and he began to explain to me the preterist view which was amazingly similar to the conclusions I had reached on my own.
Response: This kind of story is so thrilling to me! I meet people like you all the time. They studied and came to their conclusions on their own, without any help, and yet, did not know of the growing, vibrant preterist movement taking place around the world! Welcome to the wonderful world of the fulfilled promises of God! I hope to hear more from you for sure.
For HIs Truth, and In His Grace,
Don K. Preston