Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Praying for the Messiah

I happened to notice this on Israel Matzav: A movement this past Sunday to get millions of Jews all over the world, from all countries, to pray for the coming of the Messiah.

Yep, I don't hesitate to say it: As a Christian, I find that intensely sad. St. Paul predicted in Romans 11 that all Israel shall be saved. I admit that I don't know what that will look like, but, as St. Paul knew well, it has to have something to do with accepting the true Messiah, our Lord Jesus Christ, who came two thousand years ago, died, and rose again. He is also coming again. We Christians, too, look for a blessed hope, for the coming of the Messiah, but it will be his second coming.

Let us pray, with the Apostle Paul, that there will be a great turning to God among our Lord's own people according to the flesh.

"God, who at sundry times and in divers manner spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds." (Hebrews 1:1-2)


William Luse said...

You can hope for a sweet irony - contra Bailey Smith of "God Almighty doesn't hear the prayer of a Jew" fame - that in hearing He will bestow upon them the grace to accept what you already know. Meanwhile, maybe this will cheer you up:

Lydia McGrew said...

Excellent point. I did think of that. So many resonances to it: "You don't know what you are praying for!"

Great Youtube, thanks!

I've profited greatly from a series of books by ethnically Jewish Christian theologian Michael Brown. The series is _Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus_. (5 volumes, no less.)

Brian Leftow has a great story of converting to Christianity from Judaism in the book _God and the Philosophers_. He was much struck by the truth to human nature in Romans 7: "The good that I would, that I do not, and the evil I would not, I do."

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

When the Scriptures refer to "all Israel will be saved" it's referring to the spiritual Israel of God,composed of believing Jews and Gentiles, not the physical people called Jews.
There is not going to be a great turning to Jesus among the Jews. Romans 9-11 makes it quite clear that only a small number of Jews will ever convert to faith in Christ. The rest simply follow the latest false messiah that comes to begile them.

Lydia McGrew said...

I have a feeling, Steve Dalton, that you are not the kind of person I want to be debating with. But in fact the passage quite clearly indicates a great turning to God among the literal Jewish people, and indeed says that God has brought the Gentiles to himself as a means toward that end:

Speaking to the Gentiles, in vss. 11:18ff, Paul says,

"Boast not thou against the branches....For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee....And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away the ungodliness from Jacob....For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief, Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy."

The teaching could not be clearer. The contrast between "you"--the Gentiles, the wild branches who were grafted in--and "them"--the Jews, upon whom blindness has temporarily come but who will later be brought to God "through" the mercy given to the Gentile Christians--could not be clearer.

While Paul does in some places use phrases in which the term "Israel" by itself can refer to the whole church, and while he also teaches that there is a spiritual seed of Abraham, all those who believe by faith, including Gentiles, that is _not_ what he is talking about when he says that "all Israel shall be saved." Indeed, he is quite explicit, almost to the point of being wearisome, repeating over and over again the teaching that the Gentiles have been brought in and the Jews who reject Christ temporarily cut off but that the Jews will somehow later, after the "fulness of the Gentiles" be grafted back in again.

Steve "scotju" Dalton said...

Lydia, I'm not interested in debating you. I just don't believe in the Scofield/Dispensationalist/Fundamentalist hogwash about The Jews.
One, only a remnant of carnal Israel will be saved. Romans 11:3-4 makes this very clear. And yes, they can be grafted back in, but it will only be a remnant.
Two, Romans 9-11 makes it quite clear that not all Israel is Israel. Only those who who had faith are counted as Israel in God's eyes. The faithful are the remnant.
Three, the very term remnant implies a minority. All Israel in the context of Romans 9-11 means the spiritual Israel, not the carnal one. The carnal Israelites, under the influence of their rabbis, have always tried to persecute the Church (the spiritual Israel) by stirring up hatred against it on the outside and subverting it on the inside. Because of discovering my own family's Jewish origins, I've done a lot of reading and research in Jewish books, articles, and websites about Jewish history. What I have found shows me that a mass conversion of the carnal Jews is doubtful. The Anti-Christian bigotry of the Jewish people, enshrined in their Talmud and culture is just too great to allow an end time mass conversion. No, Christian tradition holds the Jews will bow down to the Anti-Christ, who tradition says will be a Jew. That makes sense, because the Jews reject Jesus as Christ come in the flesh. That's the Biblical definition of Anti-Christ. The Jews, since 33 AD, have always followed the latest false messiah (Anti-Christ) that rose among them. All of them ended in disaster for the Jews. The only good news was that some Jews became disillusioned enough with the cult of the Pharisees to become Christians. I hope when the latest manifestation of of the Anti-Christ spirit (Zionist Israel) fails that some more conversions take place to add to the 'all Israel that will be saved.

Lydia McGrew said...

Okay, Steve Dalton, as I suspected, you are an anti-semite, and anti-semites give me the creeps, so that will be the last comment of yours I publish on this thread. I debated whether to publish that one but did so because I decided to take the opportunity to point out that you've just contradicted yourself. In your previous comment you said that the prediction by Paul that "all Israel will be saved" refers to all believing Jews and Gentiles put together. This is a pretty obviously stupid interpretation anyway, because it's like saying, "Everyone who will be saved will be saved." It has no interesting predictive content and wouldn't be worth saying. But more, as I showed by quoting the context, Paul is *obviously* talking about ethnic Jews when he uses the phrase "all Israel." He is predicting the re-engrafting of Israel "according to the flesh" and is warning Gentiles not to get uppity and boast against the Jews. Which, ironically, is exactly what you are doing, thus blatantly (and foolishly) ignoring the apostolic injunction.

In any event, you've now changed your tune and are saying that when Paul says "all Israel shall be saved" he's referring to a small remnant of Jewish people. Of course, if that's what he meant, then his prediction would have already come true, since as he points out, there were at his own time already a "remnant" of Jews who were Christians. (Looking at the statistics from the other direction, there has never been a time since the apostolic times when such a high proportion of Christians have also been Jews.) Since, when he says that "all Israel shall be saved," he appears to be predicting something different and additional that will happen much later, it seems like it will need to be something more than this and will need to be a big enough deal to be recognizable at the time. But as I said in the main post, I do not know exactly what it will look like.

Meanwhile, your statements about Jewish people and Israel as the anti-Christ creep me out, so I won't be publishing any more of them. It's just a shame I can't edit comments here on Blogger. It's publish or not publish. This one almost didn't get published, and now I'm done with you.

William Luse said...

He's not interested in debating you, and then debates you.

Let's see, on the one hand we have people like, oh, Stalin, and on the other we have the Jews, so let's pick the Jews as a model for the anti-Christ. It's an obvious choice.

Bruce said...

My impression from reading Romans was always that a remnant of the Jews e.g. a faithful core if you will, would be saved. I shall have to go back and read.
When we say Jews, what do we mean anyway? People who follow Talmudic teachings? People whose mother is Jewish? Father (the literal seed of Abraham)? The Ashkenazi? Sephardic Jews? Oriental Jews? The Ashkenazi are supposedly at least as much European as they are Middle-Eastern/Semitic. It’s all very confusing. I think it’s best to say that Jews (we don’t know how many) will be numbered among the elect.

Bruce said...

As far as I can tell, there is no concensus in Church history as to who the anti-Christ is/will be. I don’t think Roman Catholics have a dogmatic teaching. Some confessional Protestants teach that it is the papacy. But I’m not aware of a teaching that it is the Jews.

Lydia McGrew said...

Bruce, you'd have to ask the Apostle Paul exactly how he'd apply his prophecy that "all Israel shall be saved" to the current ethnicity of Jews in the world. That is the sort of question to which rabbinic reasoning is eminently well-suited. :-)

As I've said, I don't know exactly how Paul's prophecy will be fulfilled, but it clearly _is_ a prophecy, and the most natural reading of it is of some noteworthy and large-scale conversion of the Jews at some later time period. Interpreting prophecy is a dicey business, and I won't swear that that is the correct interpretation, but it is the one that makes most sense to me right now.