Thursday, August 2, 2012
Gene vs. The Nations: Question 11
First, people should know that I like Gene. May not always agree with him (especially the bilateralism). But he's a brilliant man and presents a strong case for everything that he says.
The other day, Gene made the following comment:
"There's a not so little problem with Gentile identity being only there to act as a "remembrance" - we know from the prophets that there will be many nations in the World to Come, each with their own name, living in their own land... After all, Abraham is the father of many nations, both physically and spiritually. Being a person from one of the nations is not something to shun, forget or feel inferior about. It's something to celebrate - it is the work of G-d's hands."
What is Gene's underlying argument here? It seems he is saying the following:
--(1) the prophets say that "nations" will come to Jerusalem to learn Torah (Micah 4:2; Zech 8:22-23; etc)
--(2) the words "am" and "goy" which are applied to these "nations" means that these nations possess their own names and live in their own lands
--(3) therefore, the prophets argue that these "nations" are to remain separate from Israel
It's not a bad argument. If the prophets call them essentially other nations then how can they be construed as being Israel?
I will offer some evidence that they can indeed be brought into Israel and then I'll pose a question at the end. But, first, some key terms:
--(1) Goy: a kinship group with its own land and culture (Elazar; Vines)
--(2) Am: a nation defined through its ties to a deity (Elazar; Vines)
Now, there's several ways to refute Gene:
--(1) The context of Zechariah 8:22 shows that these amim and goyim were pagans who were turning from their pagan ways in order to join the covenanted Am Yisrael. Is there any contextual corroboration for this reading? Yes. Zechariah 2:11 says "11 And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lordof hosts hath sent me unto thee." In short, just because they originated as peoples attached to idols doesn't mean that they will remain attached to foreign idols--indeed, they cannot remain covenanted to idols. When they join Israel then they become part of Israel. It's a kind of en masse conversion.
--(2) The even stronger refutation is as follows. Isaiah 63:19 tells us that Israel and not the gentiles are called by His name: "We are yours. You never bore rule over them. They were not called by your name." This is saying that Israel is the only covenanted people, the only people called by His name. And then James in his speech in Acts 15:14-17 says "14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things." This tells us that the gentiles, through Yeshua, have been accepted into the Am Yisrael, the only people called by His name.
ON TO THE QUESTION:
Are gentiles now part of Israel (i.e. joining but not replacing) or are they excluded from Israel?
Posted by Peter at 10:18 AM