Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A little controversy never hurt anyone...


So Judah and Gene suggested some spice...so here goes.

Question #4

A remnant is "what remains of any entity after most of it is used or destroyed" (McComiskey).  In the Scripture, the remnant is what remains of the entity of Israel, sometimes specifically referring to the remains of the House of Israel (as opposed to the House of Judah).

Christians have noted that James, in Acts 15, applies such remnant passages to the gentiles:

"...he cites Amos as the scriptural basis for his position.  The quote is in fact a conflation of Amos 9 and other texts, such as Jeremiah 12:16 and Zechariah 2:11..."  Are Christians the 'Aliens Who Live in Your Midst'? Torah and the Origins of Christian Ethics in Acts 10-15 by John Perry

 "James's point is not just about this one passage from Amos; rather; this passage reflects what the prophets teach in general, or what the book of the Prophets as a whole teaches.  Other texts could be noted (Zech. 2:11; 8:22; Isa. 2:2; 45:20-23; Hos. 3:4-5; Jer. 12:15-16)." Acts:  Baker Exegetical Commentary by Darrell L. Bock

This is weird, right?  Why was James associating these remnant passages to the gentiles as though the gentiles were the remnant of the House of Israel?  But it gets weirder...

Both Peter and Paul seem to apply to gentiles the Hosea prophecy that promised the restoration of the all but destroyed House of Israel:

1 Peter 2:9
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Romans 9:23-26
23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
   “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people;
   and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is not my loved one,”
 26 and,
   “In the very place where it was said to them,
   ‘You are not my people,’
   there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’”

ON TO THE QUESTION:

Why were these apostles (James, Peter, Paul) applying to gentiles passages that promised the restoration of the House of Israel?

4 comments:

  1. >> "Why were these apostles applying to gentiles passages that promised the restoration of the House of Israel?"

    My answer: because gentiles become part of Israel through Messiah.

    (In Paul's words, gentiles are no longer aliens, but now fellow citizens, in the Commonwealth of Israel.)

    Messianic Jewish folks wish to diminish and play down these statements.

    You'll find Messianic Jewish folks on the web doing Scriptural acrobats to say "Commonwealth of Israel" is something besides Israel. But their arguments often rely on anachronisms; for example, one common argument is, "Commonwealth of Israel is like the Commonwealth of Great Britian, of which Canada is a part. Canadians don't see themselves as British. Likewise, gentiles shouldn't see themselves as Israel."

    Also related to this is the divine reversal of captivity and assimilation: much of Israel was absorbed into the nations through Assyrian captivity; Judaism's sages and Josephus speculated on their whereabouts. But in a stroke of divine reversal, God uses Messiah to pick a people from the nations to join Israel.

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  2. Re: "You'll find Messianic Jewish folks on the web doing Scriptural acrobats to say "Commonwealth of Israel" is something besides Israel."

    Yes, I think I have an idea for my next post. Thank you Judah.

    Re: "Also related to this is the divine reversal of captivity and assimilation: much of Israel was absorbed into the nations through Assyrian captivity; Judaism's sages and Josephus speculated on their whereabouts. But in a stroke of divine reversal, God uses Messiah to pick a people from the nations to join Israel."

    As a fan of literary theory and all around awesomeness, I love how you have articulated this. Wow!

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  3. I am late to the party. Sorry!

    I can only see two reasons why these were applied to the gentiles.

    *Gentiles are grafted in through Messiah

    *The gentiles being spoken of were actually physical members of the house of Israel.

    The second view seems to make bigger waves then the first, but goes along with Amos saying that though they are scattered, He still knows who and where they are. This does not negate the premise that anyone can come into covenant with Him, though.

    The first view is slightly less controversial in that is is inclusive of EVERYONE right out of the gate.

    I personally hold to the first view, but I can see the second as valid.

    Hope that made some sense. ;)

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    Replies
    1. S. King,

      Better late than never! Glad to see that you're engaging with the discussion. Actually, I'm in full agreement with you. The second view (physical membership in House of Israel) tends to get confused as a doctrine on salvation, the false idea that one is included in the New Covenant because of physical ancestry. I'm in complete agreement that Messiah Yeshua is the only way to be included into Israel. That goes for ethnic Jews too--everyone must come in through Yeshua. I don't claim to understand how it all works exactly with both old and new covenants operating simultaneously. But I know that Yeshua is the only way and that being Jewish is not enough.

      Thanks for participating!

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