This post is a follow-up and expansion to a very excellent e-mail from a friend of mine, Dave (he also teaches adult Sunday School at my church) He sent it out in response to an inquiry as to the value of the Old Testament. If you would like to read his e-mail go here.
Allow me to add an interpretational note to Dave’s commentary if I may. The question posited by Dave’s inquiring friend is why biblical illiteracy is so problematic in this day. Dave gave two verses from the New Testament (2 Tim. 3: 16; Heb. 4: 12) affirming the import of the whole Bible taken together. It is the case that the New Testament is interpreted in the light of the Old. Nevertheless you cannot pull verses at random from the Old Testament and the New Testament and mate them up. Context is still critical.
I have had some recent discussion with our brothers from the Reformed Theological denominations and this is precisely where they err; this is where Reformed theology goes astray in part. Reformed Theology also posits you should interpret the Old Testament by New Testament and that what they perceive the apostles said largely supersedes the Old Testament Scriptures. At the same time they ignore the New Testament Scriptures which don’t make their case (eisegesis).
The natural and actual extension of this Covenant Theology or Replacement Theology, the latter being the more a more descriptive term; although not much appreciated by those in the Reformed jerseys. Because of this exegetical misunderstanding they discount the Abrahamic Covenant to the point that the Church is the new Israel. Hence the moniker, Replacement Theology; this leaves no salvific place for Israel in “God’s plan.”
The Reformed totally ignore Paul’s discourse on this in Romans 11 which clearly proclaims:
I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. . . .
So I ask, did they stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. 12Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!
. . . if some of the branches were broken off, and you, although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root [God] of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches [Israel]. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (Romans 11:1-2; 11-12; 17-18).
On the negative side—if the Reformed team were right, and God has thrown off Israel because of their sins what does that mean? Firstly it means the Abrahamic Covenant is null and void.
Secondly is means God is a liar! If that is the case then we “in the Church” are also left without hope or as as Paul said in 1 Cor. 15 regarding the Resurrection, our “faith is in vain . . . we are of all people most to be pitied.”
Thirdly, it would then follow, that God is not God.
None of that is the case, praise God!
Clearly God has used Israel mightily in their rebellion to bring all people to Christ and Israel is still God’s Chosen People.