The is the second post in this series, to see the first click here.
Since I want to keep these posts brief and accessible I have limited how much I will answer on each question. Today I am only answering one question, as only one came up as a result of the last post. Again, most of my information comes from Kim Riddelbarger, he is my dominant source.
How would you respond to Israel returning to their land in 1948 based on the prophecies of Ezekiel and Amos?
There are a couple of things which need to be pointed out.
1). We need to be clear that whatever this means, it is not a fulfillment of the Abrahamic covenant (including the land promise). In Romans 4:13, that spiritualizer Paul, universalized this promise to extend to the whole earth. In fact, throughout this entire chapter of Romans (4), Paul makes the point that God’s promise to Abraham is fulfilled through faith in Jesus Christ. The recipients of the promise includes all those Gentiles as well as Jews (cf. Galatians 3-4) who trust in Jesus as their righteousness.
2). This means that modern nation of Israel is a thoroughly secular state and not part of the Mosaic covenant, which was fulfilled by Christ.
3). Should it be God’s purpose to convert massive numbers of Jews before the end of the age (my take on Romans 11:26), Paul makes it clear that Jews will come to faith in Christ, and be re-grafted back into the righteous root (who is Christ). This was Paul’s prayer after all–”Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1). This means that Jews will not be saved as Jews. It means that immediately before Christ returns, large numbers of Jews will come to faith in Christ, and hence, become Christians and therefore members of Christ’s church.
4). Whatever purpose God has in the formation of the modern state of Israel, this must be found in his providence (perhaps a means to facilitate the salvation of Israel) and not in fulfillment of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, which have already been fulfilled in Christ
As for the passages in Ezekiel and Amos the promise of a land given to Israel is itself typological of a heavenly kingdom which was inconceivable in the days of the patriarchs and Moses. But we only know this because the author of Hebrews tells us as much. In other words, the New Testament tells us what the things promised in the Old Testament truly mean.
The true glories of what God promised cannot be seen until the coming of Christ–although when the New Testament looks back in this, we learn that Abraham “got it” because although he was promised a land in Palestine (Genesis 12:1-3), by faith he knew that the reality for the people of God (Jew or Gentile) was not found in any earthly promise, including the promised land. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:8-10).
We discover in the New Testament that the Old Covenant is obsolete, having been superseded by the New: Hebrews 8:8-12 identifies the new covenant with Israel (Jeremiah 31:33-34) with the covenant instituted by Christ with the church. Most importantly, Hebrews 8:13 declares the old covenant obsolete and passing away. This makes impossible the dispensational view of Ezekiel 40-48 as a reinstitution of temple sacrifice.