Still MORE Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 3 – Yee Haw!

June 25, 2009 at 6:23 PM

salvation_disp_cover_smallBefore I forget, I have just completed the first draft of a new book that will soon be published.  Unfortunately, I cannot decide on a name and I’ve gone through many.  The tentative cover is shown to the left.  The thrust of the book takes numerous allegations by Covenant Theologians and responds to them.  The book is 226 pages, softcover and the size is 7″ x 10″ and the price will be around $14.99.  I will probably offer it for a lower price through this Blog for a limited time.  More on that later!

I was cruising around the ‘Net researching things for my next book and came across a Blog site which obviously holds no love at all for the poor Dispensationalist.  In fact, I am considered a heretic without salvation!  I realize that’s redundant, but just wanted to be clear.

At any rate, I took the time to read through some of the owner’s meanderings and the saddest part is that they are too easy to explain.  I’m serious.  Here is a case in point and I’m quoting verbatim from this man’s Blog:

The dominant theme of the entire chapter 21 of the Gospel of Matthew is: “God is done with the nation of Israel as a special nation before Him”. This is the first objective of this chapter. And the second objective is to show the sovereignty of God throughout this entire chapter. A sovereign King is one who does what He will, according to His good pleasure, for He alone is wise and He knows what actions are in the best interest of His kingdom. A sovereign King makes decisions over life and death, and He alone makes those decisions, for He alone is wise and He knows what decisions are to the best interest of His honor and glory. This is the God we serve, because the Bible tells us so. Therefore we suspect that the cursing of the fig tree has something to do with a curse on the nation of Israel. (1)

Let’s take a bit of time to look at this, all right?  This man assumes that the entire theme of Matthew 21 is that God is DONE with Israel!  “It’s OVER, baby!  Israel, you’re outta here!”  So he arrives at this assumption based on the second assumption, which is the following:

  • God is sovereign
  • God, as sovereign king does what He wants to do
  • God, as sovereign king, makes decisions regarding life and death
  • Based on the above, the curse of the fig tree represents Israel

All right, let’s take that apart, shall we?

God is sovereign:  100% correct!  You’ll get no argument from me.  God IS currently and always WILL be sovereign in all things.
God, as sovereign king does what He wants to do:  Hmmm.  Yes and no.  God sets down the groundrules, but we would all agree that God cannot lie, correct (Psalm 33:11; Ecclesiastes 3:14; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17-18).  Because He cannot lie, He also cannot simply “change” something that He has promised to fulfill, correct?  So, with respect to Israel, God has promised FOREVER that He will fulfill His promises to Israel (1 Chronicles 23:13; Isaiah 61:7-8; Jeremiah 32:37; Ezekiel 37:24-26; Amos 9:15).  Those are only a few Scripture references, but probably the most important ones were given to Abram directly by God and recorded in Genesis 12:1-3; and chapters 15 and 17.  In all three of these passages, the unconditional nature of God’s covenant with Abram is obvious.

The upshot then is that since God promised Abram that He would do certain things through Him, God is obligated to keep His promises.  The Covenant Theologian comes along and says essentially “Yes, God IS keeping His covenant with Israel!  The Church is the spiritual Israel!  Old Israel is dead and the promises have been transferred to the Church!”  Unfortunately, the ONLY way you can get there is by allegorizing Scripture, which is something that Covenant Theologians do very well.

God as sovereign king makes decisions between life and death – no disagreement from me on that score.

The curse of fig tree represents Israel – Whoops!  Where did THAT come from?  Oh wait, it came from his presupposition that the entire 21st chapter of Matthew is about God being done with Israel.  But let’s take a look at the fig tree for a moment.  Though there are many who see a connection between the fig tree with Israel, I find not one ounce of evidence in Scripture that a fig tree is EVER used symbolically for Israel.  What IS used symbolically for Israel is often a vine, or vineyard.

But let’s look to what Jesus Himself says about His cursing the fig tree.  Walvoord notes that “Jesus made no application to Israel as a nation here; nor does the context of the fig tree in Matthew 24 refer to Israel.” (2)

In fact, it is clear enough that Jesus’ own interpretation of what He had done is found in the area of faith.  This is Jesus’ response to the disciples regarding the fig tree (cf. Matthew 21:21-22):

Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

As can be seen, Jesus’ object lesson has to do with faith, not Israel.  But let’s say for the sake of argument that the fig tree does represent Israel, or at least part of Israel.  If so, what would then be the proper interpretation?  Jesus cursed the fig tree for not having any fruit on it.  Commentators such as the gentleman quoted above link this action with the way they believe God now views Israel because they rejected the Messiah.  But the truth of the matter is, the entirety of  chapter 21, needs to be considered.

Starting at the beginning of the chapter, we read the narrative of Jesus’ triumphal entry, at which time the people were literally worshiping Jesus.  As they did so, they sang parts of Psalm 118.  This is a Messianic Psalm and the Pharisees understood immediately what was happening, which is why Luke records for us they said (cf. Luke 19:39):

And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples.’  He answered, ‘I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out’.”

The Pharisees didn’t miss much…except the fact that Jesus was Israel’s rightful King…

If we go back to Matthew 21, we find that when Jesus entered the Temple, He became disgusted by the fact that the priests and religious leaders had created a system of literally robbing people of their hard-earned money by making it impossible to use their own sacrifice they brought with them.  Instead they had to buy one sold in the Temple.  It was a real racket, and there was undoubtedly enough kickback for everyone.  Jesus knotted a cord into a whip and drove the money changers out.  Of course, this action set up the next situation with the religious leaders.

In Luke 19, we read that they came over to Him and demanded to know what His authority was that allowed Him to do these things.   You have to appreciate what happened next.  Jesus said, “I will ask you one question; answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things. Was the baptism of John from heaven or from man? Answer me.”

The Pharisees were in a bind here.  If they said John’s baptism was NOT from God, the people would probably get really riled up and might even pick up a stone or two.  If they said that John’s baptism WAS from God, Jesus would answer “Then why didn’t you listen to him?”

So after discussing it, they turned to Jesus and said simply, “We do not know.

Jesus then answered, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Did you catch that?  Very important.  Jesus said to them “Neither will I tell you…” meaning that He knew that they knew, but simply would not say because of the people.  He did not for one second buy their “we do not know” line.  His response demonstrates to THEM, that He knew what was happening.

At any rate, it is on the tale end of these situations that Jesus finds a fig tree without fruit.  The fact that it was without fruit is obviously an important detail, especially since it had nice-looking leaves.  I think that the interpretation of the fig tree is that those individuals (like the Pharisees) who look or even act like spiritual people on the outside, but having nothing going on for them on the inside shall be cursed.  While I seriously doubt that Jesus was cursing the entire nation of Israel – because remember, it was the group of religious leaders of Israel who had rejected Jesus, not the common Jewish person.

So, if anything, Jesus was cursing the fig tree to show what would happen to anyone who merely pretended spirituality without really having the new life inside.  This could not have been applied to the entire nation, for many within Israel came to believe in Jesus as Messiah!  The religious rulers of Israel rejected Jesus.

Anti-Semitism runs extremely deep in many people.  Most people who are anti-Semitic do not even think they are and believe they are simply “defending God.”  These people need to ask themselve why they hate the Jewish people so much.  Is it because “they” not only rejected Christ, but insisted on His crucifixion?  But who phyically carried it out?  Who had the final opportunity to set Christ free, and did not?  GENTILES.  There is NO ONE who can claim innocence when it comes to Christ’s crucifixion.  We all stand guilty there.  Had Christ not been crucified, there would be no salvation available.  Those who were directly involved in His crucifixion will face His judgment and condemnation.  We do not need to do it and we certainly should not be laying the entire blame on an entire race of people.

God is absolutely and without doubt, fully sovereign.  There is no one to contest that, though many think they can.  Everything that occurs does so under the stringent supervision and management of His supreme sovereignty.  Everything will bring glory to Him because everything will bow the knee and proclaim Him Lord of all (Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:9-11).

Give that some thought.  Satan is and will bring glory to God because his absolute failure in everything he attempts attests to God’s sovereignty.  The Antichrist will do the same.  Everything that God created will glorify Him as Sovereign.

People, we have two choices in this life and only two:

  1. We can voluntarily submit our will and everything we are, to Him which means we recognize His sovereignty and we willingly submit to it, or
  2. We can put up a fight, and not willingly submit everything we are and have to Him, BUT, in the end, His will is going to be accomplished, whether we like it or not

It is far better to submit to His will, obeying Him from the heart in order that His will be accomplished in and through you, then for Him to take you by the scruff of the neck and accomplish His will through you in spite of any “fight” you may put up.

Pharaoh of old thought himself to be a god.  God set him straight, but more importantly, God let us know through Paul that Pharaoh did what God wanted him to do.  In Romans 9:17, Paul states regarding Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

Wow.  It looks like Pharaoh was brought into this world and placed on a throne for one purpose – to showcase God’s sovereignty.

Folks, today is the day for salvation.  Two celebrities died today; Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson.  They are both in eternity and they both will, or have already bowed the knee to God.  This is something you want to do in this life.  You do not want to wait until you are forced to do it in the next life.

(2) John Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come, p. 159-160

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Problems with Dispensationalism, Part 2 (God’s Sovereignty) I’m Moving It

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