A Christian View of Israel
“Israel Field president Elofer agrees that handling the question of so-called ‘replacement theology’ is a delicate one: ‘Today it is not rare that Jews come to me and ask me, “What does your church believe about Israel? Have they been rejected and replaced by the church or not?” If we say the traditional answer to this question, we have no chance to be listened to in Israel.’”
But if our traditional view is true--and I have no doubt it is--should we not tell the truth and leave the results with God? Since when did we start changing our theology because it was inconvenient or unpopular? That is exactly how false doctrines entered into the church; by compromising the truth for the sake of some supposed advantage, such as evangelizing non-Jews, etc. Would it really be better to tell something untrue in order to attract people to our church and its message? Who needs such a church or such a message anyway? Give me Bible truth and you can have all the political correctness and compromise.
Paul clearly taught that God’s faithful remnant makes up branches on God’s olive tree of spiritual Israel. Paul proclaimed, “God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2). Then he cited the 7,000 faithful Israelites in the days of Elijah as an example of the remnant (verse 4). Through Jesus Christ provision has been made for Gentile believers to be grafted in among believing Israelites (verse 17). Gentile believers never took the place of Israelite believers, Gentile believers were added in.
The remnant of each generation is grafted onto God’s olive tree. Adam is listed as part of the remnant--the faithful remnant of his generation (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 125). Therefore, Adam was the first branch on God’s olive tree of spiritual Israel. Thus it can be said that spiritual Israel existed in the days of Adam. Christ changed Jacob’s name to Israel and called the children of Israel to become the physical representation on earth of spiritual Israel. Through Christ salvation is open to all, both Jew and Gentile.
Belief in the Messiah is the criterion for becoming a branch on the olive tree of spiritual Israel. To believe in Christ is to live in Him. If we do not take Christ as the Lord of our lives and live Christ’s religion, we are not part of spiritual Israel. . . . Jesus is the True Jew. Unless we follow the True Jew and live His religion, we do not belong to Him.
Where does that leave Israel? God continues to call Israel to salvation through Jesus Christ, just as He calls Gentiles. Are we the prodigal son or the elder brother? The prodigal son grabbed his inheritance and took off for a far country. The elder brother worked at home with a bad attitude. Both needed to establish a better relationship with their father and be obedient both in spirit and in deed. They needed to acknowledge their position as sons and brothers.
Walla Walla, Washington
The question concerning Israel is an enigma for Seventh-day Adventists because we have never had a prophecy predicting their future as a political organization in end time events. I suggest taking a second look at Daniel 11:40-45. These verses are a response to the question, What would happen to Daniel’s people (Dan. 10:14)? The answer seems to be, the Jews’ destiny will be tied up with the destiny of Western civilization. If the nation of Israel is the king of the north, it is the kingdom that comes to an end without support from anyone. . . .
The Seventh-day Adventist church is the only church on the planet that effectively resolves the issue of the unity of the moral law (prevention of sin) and salvation by grace (cure for sin). This one-two combination is the lethal argument against our opponents because it provides for total spiritual health. It could be that the destruction of the political state of Israel, with its hopes and dreams of power and glory in this life will lead many Jews to turn to Christianity with its hope of the second coming. The easiest church for them to accept is the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
“Let’s Get Started,”
the editorial by Carlos Medley (Oct 25, 2007) left me feeling puzzled. Is he advocating quotas by age group and/or professions?
I’ve always been under the impression that vibrant, personal spirituality is the best criterion for local or conference-wide church leadership, particularly as compared with either age or profession, per se. It strikes me that age or professional status is often the way the world selects leaders. In contrast, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world.
When we put ourselves at the foot of the cross on a daily basis and let Christ live His life within us, we won’t need leadership quotas to attract and retain anybody. Young people (and older ones too) naturally gravitate toward spiritual success and fulfillment.
I’m tired of hearing young adults whine because they aren’t involved in the leadership process and setting the church’s agenda. Hundreds of young people graduate every year. Can they all be employed by the church? Can they all be put on committees? Can all be chiefs and no Indians? What kind of agenda needs to be set?
Didn’t Jesus set the agenda when He said, “Go ye into all the world” (Mark 16:15, KJV)? That message goes to every individual, young or old. Those are our orders. Take it and run with it. But don’t go until you are empowered. And that is where leadership has failed. Stop entertaining young people. Start challenging them with the importance of total dedication to Jesus. Challenge them to turn off their televisions and study their Bibles. Then let them share their love for Jesus with everyone they meet. Time is short; Jesus is coming.
There is already a growing army of young people who aren’t whining, but are out on the front lines fulfilling the Great Commission. God bless them!
Ethel F. Heisler
How About Those Stereotypes?
I was pleased to read in Jimmy Phillips’ article, "The Invisible Majority”
(Sept. 20, 2007), how Adventist Christian Fellowship is bringing the gospel to secular college campuses.
However, implicit in Phillips’ first vignette was the sort of scare tactics and faulty logic used by Adventist colleges to recruit Adventist young people: If you send your child to a secular university, he or she will become a rabid alcoholic.
I graduated from Forest Lake Academy in 2000. While my parents could have afforded to send me to Southern Adventist University, it didn’t offer my major. I graduated summa cum laude from the University of Central Florida in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a minor in Mathematics. To this day, the closest I’ve ever come to partaking of demon rum has been a shot of Nyquil when I have a head cold. But I never felt tempted, and I definitely enjoyed the extra academic edge sobriety gave me over my peers.
As for casual sex, even if I didn’t have my moral compunctions against it, college girls don’t go looking for math geeks when they want to have a good time.
In an educated culture like ours, scare tactics are simply an inadequate means of motivation. People are bright enough to see through them.
Behind stories like those shared by Phillips lies a seductive untruth: “Good Adventists” who never venture out of our institutions are neither subject to temptation nor prone to sin. The fact that I have never imbibed in my life, yet many of my academy friends took up the bottle while attending Adventist schools, points to the greater reality: All are tempted to sin--wherever they are. Overcoming temptation is a gift of God’s grace through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, not a matter of the human institutions we put ourselves in. Sin is a matter of the heart (Luke 6:45). If we think that by the construct of human institutions we take ourselves out of the way of temptation, we may, like ancient Israel, find ourselves falling victim to a far greater temptation: Good, old-fashioned self-righteousness.
Regarding “Saving a Seinfeld Generation from Itself”
(Oct. 18, 2007): Just what is selfish about George Costanza not sharing the pin number to his ATM account. He and Susan, his fiancée, were not married, so why should they have all their property in common? For that matter, nothing is said about Susan’s offering to share the pin to her ATM. They could break up; she could get mad and clean him out. This well-intentioned article is about the most confused I have ever read in the Adventist Review
A Good First Step
“Abuse in the Adventist Church?”
by Rene Drumm, Marciana Popescu, Gary Hopkins, and Linda Spady (Oct. 11, 2007), echoes the conclusion reached by Barbara Couden, editor of Understanding Intimate Violence
(Review & Herald Publishing): “It is time for us to stop pretending that abuse happens ‘out there’ and not to our families, our church.”
Driven by the mission “to shatter the silence surrounding abuse, particularly in families of faith,” Religion and Violence e-learning (RAVE), recently launched its website www.theRaveProject.org.
The site hosts a user-friendly tutorial on intimate violence, and links to protective shelters by state. While currently limited to the United States, RAVE’s vision includes links to international shelters.
As “historic Adventists” and “people of prophecy” are validated by “present truth,” so Drumm, et. al, remind us, relative to relationship abuse, that the questions “What has been done?” and “What can be done?” are relevant based on what is being done. The clarion call is for Seventh-day Adventists clinicians, clergy, and caring churches to help restore families of faith shattered by intimate violence.
Michael E. Hall
Charlotte, North Carolina
The Dynamic Between Faith and Science
Clifford Goldstein is right on the money with his column, “Cosmic Crackpot”
(Oct. 25, 2007). Neither evolution nor creationism is a science; they are belief systems. Of course, both use science to support their belief. But science requires reproducibility before it accepts a hypothesis. While both can present observations consistent with either hypothesis, neither has demonstrated experimental evidence or proof of either assumption. Experimental biology has demonstrated an almost infinite number of generations of fruit flies, but always fruit flies. The best either side can do is to embrace Intelligent Design.
As for me and my house, we worship a God “who spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Ps. 33:9, NKJV); the God Who cried: “It is finished” (John 19:30). I am not only a product of His handiwork, but I’m redeemed by His blood and Righteousness.