Gary Burge: Not Sent by Heaven

burge1Malcolm Lowe writes on the Gatestone Institute - Gary Burge: Not Sent by Heaven

 

While most Evangelical Protestants are generally friendly to the Jewish people and the State of Israel, there is a small band of Evangelical pastors and professors who want to line up all Evangelicals unilaterally on the Palestinian side. The most egregious example may be Anglican vicar Stephen Sizer, whose has chummed up with the likes of Naturei Karta and Iranian President Ahmadinejad. But Gary Burge probably wields the greater influence.

As “Professor of New Testament” at Wheaton College, where he has taught since 1992, Burge has taken whole generations of Evangelical students to such places as the Bethlehem Bible College for one-sided indoctrination in the Palestinian “narrative.” That is, the students are bombarded with typical Palestinian complaints about Israel. Encouragement to investigate the veracity of those complaints is lacking, let alone the history of Palestinian aggression against Israelis and the corruption and misrule of the Palestinian Authority.

Will those unfortunate students be able to cause Israel much harm? Maybe not. The harm done to impressionable young minds is another question. One wonders whether Wheaton College believes that such programs befit a respectable Christian teaching institution.

In March 2012, Burge was back at the Bethlehem Bible College to lecture at the so-called “Christ at the Checkpoint” conference. The very title of the conference betrays its misleading agenda. The idea was to underline that today if Mary and Joseph tried to visit Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, Israeli security would stop them at a checkpoint. All this ignores, of course, the fact that they were a family of Jews committed to observance of the Jewish religion.

Today, indeed, if a young couple called Miriam and Yosef from Upper Nazareth tried to go to Bethlehem for the birth of Miriam’s child, they would be turned back at the checkpoint. This is because Israel forbids its Jewish citizens from entering Area A of the Palestinian authority, lest they be killed or kidnapped.

But let us suppose that the Jewish couple managed to pass or evade the checkpoint. They would certainly be given “no room at the inn” by the Palestinians, while all the world’s foreign ministries would denounce those “Jewish settlers” for their attempt to set up residence in Bethlehem. Such elementary verities, of course, surpass the mental capacity of the partisans of “Christ at the Checkpoint.”

Burge’s lecture is available on Internet as a video; there is also an excellent written summary by one of the participants in the conference. The official title was “Theology of the Land in the New Testament,” but about a third of it was chit-chat about Burge’s encounters with Jews in Israel. Recalling those encounters, Burge emphasized time and again the “fun” that he got from subjecting his Jewish counterparts to ridicule. At the end of the presentation, Burge whipped himself into a fervor about how, the next time he goes to Jerusalem, he could preach his version of Christianity in the Jewish quarter of the Old City.

Now, one might sympathize with Burge when he meets Jews who want to transfer the Dome of the Rock to some other site in order to rebuild the Temple. That is, if he has reported them correctly. There is, for instance, a Jewish group that has used ancient Jewish sources to reconstruct the implements used in Temple worship. Generally, however, such groups maintain that building the Temple itself must await the coming of the Messiah; in the meantime, one can only make such preparations for that event.

But let us consider an example that shows Burge’s failure to understand either Judaism or the New Testament accounts themselves. Burge was in the Western Wall plaza and intent on taking photographs on a Sabbath, when some Jews warned him that it was forbidden.

“So I had my camera in my hand and they thought it was a good moment to come over and teach me a lesson about why you shouldn’t take photos on the Sabbath. This sounded like fun, so after their sermon I asked them, well, what is really wrong theologically with using a camera on Sabbath? Honestly, debating details of Sabbath observance on the Sabbath sounded very biblical, especially one hundred yards from the Temple. So they argued that pushing the button on the shutter release was doing work. I told them climbing all these stairs all over Jerusalem was more work and on it went for about a half hour. This could have been a scene right out of the Gospel. I said I was celebrating the beauty of God’s creation by taking a picture, they said I was breaking the Law. I was having a great time.”

Here Burge shows a fundamental ignorance that might be forgiven the average Christian layperson, but is inexcusable in anyone who purports to be a professor of Bible. The meaning of “doing no work” in regard to the Sabbath has nothing whatever to do with physical effort. Doing no work means refraining from creation, just as God spent the seventh day without creating anything. Making a photograph, of course, is an act of creation. So the proper way to “celebrate the beauty of God’s creation” on the Sabbath is precisely not to take a picture of it. Or, if Burge had been more inventive, he could have sung the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation.”

Had he put away his camera and sung that well-known verse, he might have given his Jewish interlocutors an unexpected favorable impression of Christianity. Instead, he wilfully confirmed any prejudices that they had about Christian stupidity. That, for Burge, is “having a great time.”

As for calling this episode “a scene right out of the Gospel,” Burge showed his incomprehension in the field that he teaches. The reference is to various incidents in which Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath. There has been a great deal of insightful scholarship on this topic. That includes an article of mine with David Flusser inNew Testament Studies, a journal that all “professors of the New Testament” are assumed to read, as long ago as 1983. The main conclusions are the following:

First of all, both Jesus and his critics were agreed that the Sabbath should be observed scrupulously, but that it could be violated in cases of dire need. Rather, they differed on what counted as dire need. The later Jewish consensus was that only the need to save a human life could justify – and would indeed require – violating the Sabbath, if that life would be lost by not acting before the end of the Sabbath. But earlier on there were less stringent views, such as that of Jesus: his healings concerned lifelong severe handicaps, such as blindness or paralysis.

Moreover, some of the reported healings on the Sabbath do not truly violate it. For instance, when Jesus told a man to stretch out his paralysed hand and the man was able to do it, the hand was found to be healed, but neither Jesus nor the man had done anything that violated the Sabbath.

Both Jesus and his critics would have been astounded to hear of Burge’s “dire need” to take a snapshot on the Sabbath, as if it ranked with healing the blind. Burge’s comparison of himself with Jesus is preposterous and absurd.

For the sake of Burge’s students, I shall relate a different Christian-Jewish encounter. Many Christians in Israel could tell a similar story, but this just happened to me. It took place not far from the scenes of Burge’s exploits and only a few weeks later. His students might ask themselves whether this was not a more Christian form of behavior toward Jews. Perhaps it will save them from marching down the “broad way” (Matthew 7.13) behind him.

One Friday evening, just around the beginning of the Sabbath, during a walk around a Jewish neighborhood in the dimming light, I sat down for a while in the deserted street. It was at this point that an elderly lady approached from the other side of the road and interrogated me about “Filipinas.” There are many women, and some men, from the Philippines who work as carers for the aged and infirm in Israel, where they are greatly appreciated. The following conversation ensued (in Hebrew).

“Do you know a Filipina?”she asked. “There are many Filipinas,” I responded.

“I need a Filipina to do something.” Immediately, I understood. Observant Jews are forbidden to turn electricity on or off during the Sabbath. Some have an automatic timer that switches the whole electric system on in the evening, including lights and heating, then switches it off for the night. Maybe her whole flat was in darkness.

“I can do it,” I said. “Are you not a Jew?” “I am not a Jew.” “A hundred percent not?” she insisted. “A hundred percent.” “Are you a Christian?” “Yes.”

“Perhaps you were sent by Heaven!” she exclaimed. Reassured, she led me back across the street and up some flights of stairs. In her modest flat there was one light on, in the kitchen, where an older man – presumably her husband – was sitting.

Here was the problem. She had laid a row of little dishes of food on a hotplate, but it was unplugged. All her careful plans for the Sabbath were faced with ruin. I took up the plug and inserted it into a socket. Mission accomplished.

That single light also had to illuminate their sitting room and, more dimly, further rooms down a corridor. I asked if I could do anything else, but no.

At this point a second woman emerged from the corridor. “That’s mother,” said the first woman, “she’s a hundred years old!” “To a hundred and twenty,” I responded, wishing her a life as long as Moses. There was nothing more needed, so I retraced my steps down the stairs and left them to their simple Sabbath celebration.

Now let us imagine that she had come across Gary Burge, sitting there in the street. Sent by Heaven? Hardly. It would be another chance to have “fun” at the expense of pious Jews. “Walking up those stairs is much more work than inserting a plug,” he would have admonished her. “Do it yourself.” “Free yourself from the Law, learn from the Gospel.” And he would have walked off, treasuring a new exploit to recount at the next “Christ at the Checkpoint.” Burge playing (his understanding of) Jesus again.

To conclude, let us locate Burge in the Evangelical and the broader Christian spectrum. It is widely perceived that Evangelicals are peculiarly attached to the State of Israel, but a 2011 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has shown that the issue is not so simple.

The survey was addressed to “Evangelical Protestant Leaders” and asked three relevant questions (besides covering many other issues). Asked “Which side do you sympathize with more?” 34% answered “with Israel,” 11% “with the Palestinians,” 39% “with both equally” and 13% “with neither.” Note, however, that this was – strictly speaking – not a theological question. The other two questions were unambiguously theological.

Responding to “Is the State of Israel a fulfillment of biblical prophecy?” 48% said yes and 42% said no. With regard to “God’s covenant with the Jewish people,” 73% said “it continues today” and 22% that it “no longer applies.”

On this last question, that great majority of Evangelical Protestant leaders is aligned with what has been Roman Catholic teaching since the famous declaration Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. Many of the so-called “mainline” Protestant churches have issued similar declarations in the meantime.

All those declarations, Protestant as well as Roman Catholic, draw upon decades of scholarship on Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which should be familiar to any “professor of New Testament.” Thus Nostra Aetate asserts: “The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: ‘theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh’ (Rom. 9:4-5)…” It adds that “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues” (echoing Rom. 11.28-29) and that “the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.”

Now, the declarations of both the Vatican and Protestant churches have been wary of ascribing a theological significance to the State of Israel. Rather, they often distinguish between that state, as a political institution to be evaluated like any other state, and the return of the Jews to their biblical homeland, which is interpreted positively in terms of God’s faithfulness toward the Jewish people. More details can be found in an article of 1989 to which I contributed.

We may imagine that many of the 42% of Evangelical Protestant leaders who declined to endorse the State of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy did so because they make a similar distinction. After all, many of them must be among the 73% who asserted that God’s covenant with the Jewish people “continues today.”

Burge, however, is resolutely opposed to that majority Christian teaching. Toward the end of an interview with Hank Hanegraaff in July 2012, Burge claimed that all the promises made by God to Israel in the Old Testament are “Jewish theology” that the New Testament “turns inside out.” Yes, admits Burge, Paul does envisage a continuing existence of the Jewish people, but God is now equally concerned with all peoples and God’s interest has turned away from the Land of Israel.

Burge then described the State of Israel as a “highly secular” state that is “sharply disinterested in any of the covenant obligations that you have in the Old Testament,” so “the strings attached to the land no longer pertain.” This pejorative description is false: one need only recall the many decisions of Israel’s Supreme Court in favor of non-Jewish minorities, fulfilling a frequent biblical demand. Israel’s Declaration of Independence contains deliberate echoes of Judaism’s covenantal commitments.

More fundamentally, Burge disregards a distinction familiar to biblical theologians: God may punish deviations from the covenant, but He never abolishes the covenant itself; His covenantal partner need only repent in order to benefit from the covenant again. But maybe Burge belongs to those Christian theologians who hold that all the day-long repentance of Jews on Yom Kippur is a waste of time because they have not acknowledged Jesus,

In that interview, Burge was practicing what is commonly called “replacement theology,” that is, treating the Christian Church as the authentic continuation of Old Testament religion to the exclusion of Judaism. Curiously enough, earlier in the interview he had deprecated the replacement theology of early Christian writers.

So also at “Christ at the Checkpoint,” he strove to distinguish his view from earlier replacement theology. What is the difference? Old-time replacement theology, he said, claimed that Judaism had been replaced permanently by Christianity. His own view is that Judaism lost its validity with the coming of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago; so Judaism is just hanging around until Jesus returns in glory and the Jews recognize him as their Messiah. Not just Jews but many Christian theologians today would regard Burge’s distinction as nit-picking.

Thus Burge is far out on a theological fringe, isolated not just from fellow Evangelicals but from Protestant and Roman Catholic teaching in general. It would not be far-fetched to call Burgism a contemporary heresy. But accusations of heresy are too easily thrown around, not least by Burge’s friends at Christian Zionists. So let’s think it enough to call him a marginal theologian.

Source

What is the Message of Christ at the Checkpoint?

In this horrendous clip, CaTC shaker-makers hang themselves on their own words. Manfred Kohl, for example, calls Jews who think the State of Israel has anything to do with God’s Covenant faithfulness to Abraham, “dummkopfs”! at 4:30 mins, much to the delight of the CaTC crowd. This made my skin crawl to hear a German Christian calling Jews dummkopfs again. Kohl was born in Germany in WWII so should really know better.

At 5:28 mins Kohl says , jumping from God’s promise to Abraham to the modern State of Israel is to nullify the cross of Jesus Christ. Really!? A Christian theologian thinks that something can nullify the redemptive death of Jesus, weird. Does he hate Israel so much that his very faith in the redemptive work of the Cross is threatened by a Jewish State of Israel? Seems so.

Unsurprisingly Stephen Sizer used a letter from Kohl as some kind of proof that he is not anti-Semitic - dummkopf! 

Gary Burge to Speak at LCJE North American Jewish Missions Gathering

Gary Burge 'witnessing' to soldier

Gary Burge ‘witnessing’ to soldier

The Lausanne Consultation On Jewish Evangelism (LCJE) 31st Annual North American Conference (2-5 March 2014) have invited well-known anti-Israel activist and Supersessionist theologian Gary Burge to speak to them on the theme of:

Balancing Jewish and Palestinian Concerns in the Middle East: A Conversation with Gary Burge

However their conference is titled: The NT’s Use of the OT: How Are the OT Passages Messianic?

Maybe one of these missionaries to Jewish people can teach Burge how to witness to a Jewish soldier considering his last ‘ham-fisted’ approach at CaTC 2012.

Burge has previously:attacked Christians with a “Jewish theology” and “Jewish worldview” and attacked the the “Territorial World View of Judaism”

Wheaton Illinois has antisemitic theology, Wheaton Mass. has antisemitic vandals

Last week we reported the theological anti-Semitism of Wheaton College professor Gary Burge and visiting speaker Stephen Sizer using the old lie of the Jewish Lobby.

Now in another US college with the same name we have physical manifestations of traditional anti-Semitism.

Wheaton College Jewish residence targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti

November 12, 2012

(JTA) — Anti-Semitic graffiti was found written on the back door of a Jewish residence on the campus of Wheaton College.

The graffiti was discovered Sunday morning at the Jewish Life House of the private liberal arts school in southeastern Massachusetts.

Wheaton President Ronald Crutcher informed the student body of the incident in a campus-wide email, according to the Boston Globe.

“I want to be clear: this will not be tolerated,” Crutcher wrote. “Wheaton is committed to appreciating, understanding and celebrating diversity. Every individual — student, faculty and staff member – -has the right to feel welcomed and safe on our campus and in our community.”

The student residents of the Jewish Life House say they have been targeted before.

Crutcher reportedly said that a campus meeting will be held to discuss the incident and to speak out against bigotry.

 

(post adjusted to reflect corrections pointed out both in RPP comments and on Twitter by @porterspeakman)

Gary Burge attacks Christians with a “Jewish theology” and “Jewish worldview”

Gary Burge speaking to Hank Hanegraaff at 42:13:

http://www.equip.org/audio/hank-hanegraaff-and-special-guest-dr-gary-burge/

If I am thinking Christian-ly, how should I think about the land? Too often in my conversations with Christians, they are actually doing Jewish theology. They are working out of Genesis and Ezekiel, and they’re working out a theological view of the Middle East which is very much embedded in a Jewish worldview. And yet I am asking the next question, I am asking, did not the arrival of Christ, did not the teachings of Paul, change all this?

 

Suffer the Little Children!

Israeli soldiers and Border police have to suffer the little children who have been sent out by their brave parents to try to engineer a conflict photo opportunity for the gathered press and their mother’s video camera.

We know that staging photos and video footage is a standard Palestinian propaganda tool, however it is also used by anti-Zionist Christians like Rev Stephen Sizer vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, UK. Sizer and Gary Burge of Wheaton College, stage a protest at a checkpoint to a close military zone. They then lie by claiming they were met by lethal force!

British Messianic Jewish Leader Concerned at Extremism of CaTC

President of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance has made a statement regarding the Christ at the Checkpoint conference in the current issue of the BMJA’s Chai magazine:

Christ at the Checkpoint (CATC) conference

CATC is taking place at Bethlehem Bible College in March 2012. It follows CATC 2010, where “Palestinian theologians gave speeches showing how Palestinian Christians read the Bible as an indigenous book, reflecting their land and culture”[1]. It features numerous anti-Zionist speakers including Stephen Sizer, Ben White[2] and Gary Burge[3]. It also features prominent international Christian leaders, including Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church, and Chris Wright of the Langham Partnership International.

Extremism

It is concerning that the organisers and speakers include people who have gone beyond legitimate criticism of Israeli policies to push anti-Semitic ideas and support racists. Secular commentators have voiced concerns about Stephen Sizer[4] and Ben White[5]. Although CATC’s website affirms Messianic Jews[6], one conference organiser has previously set the police on a BMJA member[7] and has referred to Israeli Messianic Jews as an “abomination”[8], blaming “Zionists” for causing him to do so[9]. A fuller overview of the extremist statements and actions of many conference participants is available at http://tiny.cc/z107f .

Reconciliation?

CATC claims to advocate reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians[10]. Yet if this were the case, there would be equal numbers of Israeli and Palestinian speakers, probably in a neutral venue which all could attend safely. By contrast, most of the speakers are anti-Zionists and non-Jews! It is also telling that the speakers include no Sabra Israelis. Existing forums such as Musalaha bring actual Palestinians and Israelis together and therefore represent far better avenues for pursuing reconciliation.

Fears

Based on the previous statements and actions of some CATC speakers, I strongly believe that CATC will foster extremism and theological anti-Semitism. I also fear that the moderate speakers will be bombarded with anti-Israel material, through selective exposure to the very real suffering of Palestinians. If such influential speakers then write and speak of their emotionally draining experiences in Bethlehem, the very birthplace of the Prince of Peace, then the conference will simply further the delegitimisation of Christian support for Israel. Moreover, for moderate speakers to attend the conference without challenging extremism and anti-Semitism is to legitimize such views. Clearly, this does not promote true reconciliation, nor indeed the pure bride which Yeshua desires (2 Cor. 11:2).

Consistency

I have long campaigned against anti-Semitism within my trade union[11], even to the point of recently resigning[12]. It would be hypocritical to stay silent in the face of anti-Semitism and extremism in the Christian world. As such, along with many other Messianic Jews[13] (far from an “extreme minority” as Ben White has suggested), I have serious concerns about the real motivations and implications of CATC.

Footnotes:
[1]http://www.christatthecheckpoint.com/index.php/about-us/press-release-2010 (emphasis added)
[2] http://blog.z-word.com/2009/07/lies-damn-lies-and-the-apartheid-analogy/ and http://www.
propagandistmag.com/2009/07/17/more-white-lies-about-israeli-apartheid
[3] http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_print=1&x_context=6&x_article=1371
[4] http://hurryupharry.org/2011/11/11/stephen-sizer-and-helen-thomas/
[5] http://engageonline.wordpress.com/2009/07/19/ben-whites-questionable-book/
[6] http://www.christatthecheckpoint.com/index.php/about-us/theological-stances
[7] http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2010/jan/26/sizer-weissman-holocaust-blog
[8] http://roshpinaproject.com/2011/10/14/british-vicar-calls-israeli-messianic-jews-an-abomination/
[9] http://roshpinaproject.com/2011/10/17/british-vicar-who-called-israeli-messianic-jews-an-abominationissues-
a-non-apology-apology/
[10] http://www.christatthecheckpoint.com/index.php/about-us/conference-goals
[11] http://hurryupharry.org/2009/12/15/is-ucu-suddenly-taking-antisemitism-seriously/
[12] http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/51768/another-academic-quits-ucu-over-antisemitism
[13] http://thinkingoutsidetheblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/christ-at-checkpoint-2012-conference.html

by James M, President of the BMJA

Sizer’s CaTC delegates meet so-called lethal force!

This is Christ at the Checkpoint 2010 where so called Non-Violent Resistance met with Lethal Force in Beit Jala, this is where Sizer gets his kicks after all his boring sermons! This video shows how the camera can lie, we do not see any context as to why the Christ at the Checkpoint delegates cum protesters run for cover only a shaking camera view of the floor. They are then addressed by a Palestinian who tells them that they have no guns only the Israelis have guns! Well of course it is well-known that Hamas and the various factions of the PLO wander around with daisy-chains and daffodils… of course not, Israeli troops face heavily armed Palestinian terrorists. This protest was a set-up designed to influence American Christians who chant “don’t be machines” and “think for yourself” in a robotic and well-orchestrated way, in fact in the way they were told to beforehand! They are taken to a row of soldiers who are stopping access into a closed military zone, he asks them if they want to go forward, excitedly they say yes and then seek to precipitate a conflict with the soldiers who show restraint and respect letting them get right up into their faces, allow them freedom of speech and expression.

At 9:24 Gary Burge, professor at Wheaton College gets into the face of an Israeli soldier and tells him that he is destroying himself and it will break his soul… your heart is being crushed by this! The soldier is even willing to discuss with Burge who has been so patronising and pompous with him. Burge then boasts about his conversation with the soldier on film with Sizer the cameraman, unethically revealing the soldier’s name and where he lives having told him he needs to save his heart, but does not tell him how! The implication of Burge telling the solider that just following orders, was an echo of other times, was yet another attempt to make Israelis look like Nazis.

Who knows what protests Christ at the Checkpoint organisers have lined-up for CaTC March 2012, but those pastors of Israeli Messianic Jewish congregations that have agreed to attend, have to ask themselves what they would do if there were faced with a member of their congregation doing military service!

Louis Lapides on Gary Burge and the Evangelical Intifada

Louis Lapides writes:

When it comes to Christians supporting Israel, we have to ask ourselves an important question.  Do I stand for Israel because of my love for the Jewish homeland and its people, or do I support Israel only because Israel’s salvation is the key component to hurrying the return of Jesus?

Sadly, I think the latter is  mostly true. When I tell evangelical leaders and lay people about the current anti-Israel “Evangelical Intifada” taking place in the church, I don’t get a serious reaction. I witness a response that tells me a large segment of evangelicals don’t care whether Israel is being trashed by some evangelicals unless it takes place in their own house of worship.

I also observe Christians who listen to anti-Israel speakers or view the pro-Palestinian films like Little Town of Bethlehem and With God on Our Side, with a malaise. It is the rare Christian who is going to do the research and reading it’ll take to refute and burst the propaganda bubble surrounding these films.

I would hope that my blogs and the writings of so many other evangelicals (see my Blog Log) who see the serious of the anti-Israel invasion of the evangelical church will wake up.

One of the battle fronts of this “Evangelical Intifada” is theological.  Names likeStephen Sizer, Vicar of Christ Church in the UK and Wheaton College New Testament professor Gary Burge are among the theologians who espouse the scriptural nuts and bolts of the anti-Israel invasion.

In a recent radio conversation with Michael Rydelnik, Jewish Studies department head at Moody Bible College, Burge states the covenants God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been fulfilled in Christ.  Christ, according to Burge, is the true seed of Abraham.  The promises Christians experience in Christ have been “elevated above the promises made to Abraham”. No longer is God concerned with the land of Israel, but is more focused on the whole world.

If Burge is correct, then the nation of Israel should not be of any concern to the writers of the New Testament after the coming of Jesus.  The major focus should be on Christ and the church – not one nation, especially Israel.

In Galatians 3:9 Paul writes,  “Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”

Burge correctly notices God’s focus today is urging all humanity to find salvation through Israel’s Messiah.  Burge fails to understand the verse quoted by Paul from Genesis 12:3 has always been the Lord’s intent – to bless the whole world through the people of Israel.  Through progressive revelation, the prophets revealed this blessing would come through one seed of Israel – the Messiah. However, the salvation of the earth brought through the messianic seed of Israel is not at cross purposes with God’s other covenants with Israel.

In Romans 9:4-5 Paul writes concerning  the people of Israel, “Theirs is the adoption to sonship; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of the Messiah, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” Paul traces God’s plan to bring the Messiah forth from Israel who will bless all of humanity.  Yet Paul never says the other covenants God has with Israel will be nullified once the Messiah comes.

Paul says later in Romans 11:25-27 that He will bring Israel into the blessings of the New Covenant and will forgive their sins.  This is a promise that will be fulfilled with the nation as a whole but in the meantime the God of Israel is saving a remnant of  Jewish people as they place their trust in Yeshua (Romans 11:5).

Further evidence is found in the prophetic passages of the New Testament that describe Israel back in the Promised Land after the present diaspora. In Matthew 24:15-16 Jesus quotes from the Hebrew prophet Daniel (9:27) that in the last days prior to his return, “So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” For this passage to be fulfilled, a Jewish temple must be standing in Israel. The rebuilding of the Temple can only occur if the Jewish people are back in the land.


For those Reformed theologians and adherents of replacement theology who see these events as already fulfilled in the first century, then they would be forced to conclude Jesus has already returned. In the passage after the mention of the “abomination that causes desolation,” Jesus adds, “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other”(Matthew 24: 30-31).

We must conclude the Jewish people will be back in the land prior to the return of Jesus when the abomination [the Antichrist] stands in the Jewish Temple to desecrate it (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).

The presence of the Jewish people in the land of Israel prior to Jesus’ return fits with other passages in the New Testament.  In Acts 1:11 in harmony with Zechariah 14:4 the scriptures teach the Messiah’s feet will stand on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. In Zechariah 14 the prophet is speaking to the Jewish people and telling them the nations of the earth will come against Israel (vs. 2) but the Messiah will come to Jerusalem to defeat their enemies.  How can such a passage be fulfilled unless the Jewish people are back in the land?  Despite the New Testament’s focus on the gospel going forth to all humanity (1 Timothy 2:4), God’s dealings with the people of Israel never cease.

In the radio interchange between Rydelnik and Burge, the Moody Bible College professor brings out the fact Israel is mentioned in the Book of Revelation in harmony with Matthew 24 and the Old Testament prophets.  The Jewish Temple is mentioned in Revelation 11 as being rebuilt prior to Jesus’ return. In Revelation 12:5 Israel is seen under the figure of a woman who gives birth to “a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” Israel becomes an object of Satan’s hatred and is persecuted by the devil or dragon.

In response Burge answers like most scholars who refuse to see the obvious by saying, “scholars debate the images seen in the Book of Revelation.” I’m sorry to inform Gary Burge but when God gives instructions to measure His temple  describing the altar and the outer court of the gentiles (Revelation 11:-12), the interpretation of the text is not figurative but literal.  Where will Burge stop with his excuse of referring to the use of figurative language in Revelation to avoid acknowledging Israel’s place in prophecy?  Is the return of Jesus in Revelation 19:11-16 figurative or literal?