Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How God governs history and prophecy

In yesterday's blog we considered the area of Bible prophecy that deals with how God is governing both past and present, as well as the future.  The first view we looked at - dispensationalism, pictures our world and universe like a big house - over which God is the Chief Sovereign.  In today's blog we want to consider a second system, which suggests God governs our world and prophetic events by means of covenants.  We will then offer a third suggested picture that combines the best of both these valid options. 
    The second position suggests that God uses a more "covenantal" approach in promoting His plan of salvation.  Two covenants are proposed by what is called "Covenant theologians".  The first is the covenant of works, which was given by God to Adam and Eve.  Based upon their obedience to certain commands, God would determine whether or not they would attain eternal fellowship with Him.  They failed of course and so God had to offer a second covenant called "The Covenant of Grace", whereby through faith in His promise, Adam and his descendants could be saved by grace through faith. 
    Throughout history, God offered versions of the covenant of grace to Abraham and David, with the ultimate fulifllment in Jesus Christ.  Through His obedience to the Father Christ fulfilled the broken Covenant of works, thus being our New Adam (compare Romans 5:11-21).  Furthermore, Christ paid for the Covenant of Grace on the cross.  Covenant theologians tend to see all of the promises to Israel being fulfilled in the church, and thus consider the church to be "The New Israel".  Since Israel forfeited her role as God's chosen nation, the church has replaced her as God's covenant people.  Most of the time, but not always, folks who are into covenant theology will either be A-millennial or Post-millennial. 
        Both positions are ways of taking the biblical record and determining how it is God is administering salvation and how He will end the world.  Dispensationalism has the strength of keeping the distinction between Israel and the church.  It also matches best with what Paul writes in Romans 11 about God's dealings with Israel and the Gentiles.  Being that Dispensationalism by nature is into making "distinctions", it can sometimes run the risk of drawing lines too sharply.  
       Covenant theology's strength best explains how the events of the first three chapters of Genesis relates to the rest of the Bible.  The weakness of Covenant theology is in how it replaces Israel and makes all of her promises applicable to the church.   If we are recipients of Israel's blessings, then we must also be willing to accept the curses too.
       It is the opinion of this blogger that combining the strengths of both systems might be the best approach in understanding Israel, the church and God's purposes for prophecy.  Of course the reader is encouraged to search the scriptures, since the Bible alone can form our conclusions on whatever matter we may be studying.  
Maintaining the continuity of what took place in the fall with the ultimate purposes of God in Bible prophecy will provide a necessary starting point for one's eschatology.  Furthermore, understanding that God still has a plan for Israel, and that plan is seen in the coming of Christ will provide the appropriate end point for one's eschatology as it relates to The church, Israel and Prophecy.

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