The Loss of the Kingdom Promise
The 77% of our Bible which is the Old Testament has been detached from the New Testament. We have forgotten that YEHOVAH God preached the Gospel to Abraham (Gal. 3:8) and that the New Testament Gospel preaching by Yeshua is based on the covenant made with Abraham. YEHOVAH promised the land to Abraham and to his seed. Yeshua, as the promised seed (Gal. 3:16-19), guaranteed the land to Christians (Matt. 5:5; Rev. 5:10).
The "murder of the [Old Testament biblical] text" by critical scholarship has been equally responsible for the suppression of the covenant-hope of "life in the land." Fragmenting the Hebrew Bible in the interests of a theory of composition, scholarship lost sight of what James Dunn has called the Pauline presupposition about the authority of Scripture, "that a single mind and purpose [YEHOVAH's] inspired the several writings [the Bible]." After nearly two thousand years of uncomprehending Gentile opposition, the promise to Abraham of progeny, blessing, greatness, and land must be reinstated in the churches' teaching as the coherent and unifying theme of biblical faith in YEHOVAH God and the Messiah and the essential core of the Christian Gospel about the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. There could be no greater rallying point for fragmented Christendom. No other theme than that which ties together all of divine revelation can provide the churches with the unified Message they so desperately need. What they need is nothing other than the Messiah himself as expressed in his Gospel of the Kingdom, the whole purpose of his ministry (Luke 4:43).
As James Dunn says, "The idea of 'inheritance' was a fundamental part of Jewish understanding of their covenant relationship with YEHOVAH God, above all, indeed almost exclusively, in connection with the land -- the land of Canaan theirs by right of inheritance as promised to Abraham...[This] is one of the most emotive themes in Jewish national self-identity...Central to Jewish self-understanding was the conviction that Israel was the LORD's inheritance...Integral to the national faith was the conviction that YEHOVAH had given Israel the inheritance of Palestine, the promised land. It is this axiom which Paul evokes and refers to the new Christian movement as a whole, Gentiles as well as Jews. They are heirs of YEHOVAH God. Israel's special relationship with YEHOVAH has been extended to all in the Messiah. And the promise of the land has been transformed into the promise of the Kingdom...That inheritance of the Kingdom, full citizenship under the rule of YEHOVAH God alone, is something still awaited by believers."
Again we must insist on the direct link between early Christianity and the covenant with Abraham. As Dunn says:
"The degree to which Paul's argument is determined by the current self-understanding of his own people is clearly indicated by his careful wording which picks up four key elements in that self-understanding: the covenant promise to Abraham and his seed, the inheritance of the land as its central element ...lt had become almost a commonplace of Jewish teaching that the covenant promised that Abraham's seed would inherit the earth [cp. Matt. 5:5; Rev. 5:10]...The promise thus interpreted was fundamental to Israel's self-consciousness as God's covenant people: It was the reason why God had chosen them in the first place from among all the nations of the earth, the justification for holding themselves distinct from other nations, and the comforting hope that made their current national humiliation endurable . . .
"Paul's case reveals the strong continuity he saw between his faith and the fundamental promise of his people's Scriptures... Paul had no doubt that the Gospel he proclaimed was a continuation and fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham [cp. Gal 3:8]. But he was equally clear that the heirs of Abraham's promise were no longer to be identified in terms of the law. For Genesis 15:6 ["Abraham believed God and its was reckoned to him as righteousness"] showed with sufficient clarity that the promise was given and accepted through faith, quite apart from the law in whole or in part.""
"The first task of exegesis [explaining the Bible] is to penetrate as far as possible inside the historical context(s) of the author and of those for whom he wrote. So much of this involves the taken-for-granteds of both author and addressees. Where a modern reader is unaware of (or unsympathetic to) these shared assumptions and concerns it will be impossible to hear the text as the author intended it to be heard (and assumed it would be heard). In this case, a major part of that context is the self-understanding of Jews and Judaism in the first century and of Gentiles sympathetic to Judaism. Since most of Christian history and scholarship, regrettably, has been unsympathetic to that self-understanding, if not downright hostile to it, a proper appreciation of Paul in his interaction with that self-understanding has been virtually impossible [cp. Peter's warning about the danger of misunderstanding Paul!]."
The replacement of Jewish ways of thinking (the ways the Bible writers thought) by Gentile ideas has been a disaster affecting the denominations.
"[After New Testament times] the great people of God's choice [the Jews] were soon the least adequately represented in the Catholic [universal] Church. That was a disaster to the Church itself. It meant that the Church as a whole failed to understand the Old Testament and that the Greek mind and the Roman mind in turn, came to dominate its outlook: From that disaster the Church has never recovered either in doctrine or practice. If today we are again coming rightly to understand the Old Testament and thus far better than before the New Testament also, it is to our modern Hebrew scholars and in part to Jewish scholars themselves that we owe it. God meant, we believe, the Jews to be His missionaries; the first great age of evangelization was the Apostolic age, when the missionaries were almost entirely Jews; no others could have done what they did. If today another great age of evangelization is to dawn, we need the Jews again ."
Hope of Israel
P.O. Box 853
Azusa, CA 91702, U.S.A.