Freed to live through the death of another.

Saving a People as an ‘Aside’

John MacArthur’s comments on all good Calvinists being pre-millennial has got me thinking again. But I definitely don’t agree.

Historic Dispensationalism stated outright that God’s plan to save the Gentiles now–in an age of grace–is an aside from God’s plans to save Israel and establish them as God’s people. Contemporary Dispensationalism, of course, would never use such crass terms, but to put forward the notion that God will return somehow to dealing with one nation again, after giving his gospel–which is the fulfilment of all the revelation given to Israel, and which is given in order to bring about the obedience of the nations–really is to suggest the same thing in perhaps more friendly terms.

I would suggest, however, that a simple reading of Galatians and Paul’s view of redemptive-history given there would suggest otherwise. From Adam to Abraham, God dealt with the nations. From Abraham on God dealt primarily with Abraham’s seed–a particular people group–but this seed was specifically prophesied as the one who will bring God’s blessing to all nations.

A little while later, God continues to deal with Israel alone and gives the Law, which they must obey; this Law is the standard by which they must live and be judged, it is what makes Israel distinct as God’s people. This Law, however, as Paul says, is fulfilled (as are the promises to Abraham) in Christ.

Why in the world, then, would we expect for God to go back to dealing with one nation alone? Wouldn’t that be to reverse of the working out of his plan in salvation-history?

Though I would never put it in these terms (tongue planted firmly in cheek), if we must view the saving of a particular people in salvation-history as an ‘aside’, wouldn’t it be Israel? If God’s original plan with Adam and then subsequently with Abraham (and I think it could be easily shown through Israel as well) is for ‘the whole world’, then why would he go back to dealing specifically with a covenant-people whose covenant has been rendered obsolete?


  1. r a i n e r

    I once read Douglas Wilson who wrote, “amillenialists have no chest hair & play with barbies.” Irrelevant, but funny!

  2. Rielly

    Good thoughts Julian. I have had musings along those lines as well.

    With the exception of dealing with a few passages in Romans…there is far more in scripture about salvation going to all nations in the inagurated kingdom. Sometimes I think we miss where the burden of proof lies. I actually had someone tell me “that is how anti-semetism arose, you shouldn’t be talking like that” as I was sharing similar thoughts to your own. Interesting.

  3. r a i n e r

    Just thought I’d pass this along – on this day, April 7th, in 1977,the Toronto Bluejays played their first game 🙂

  4. Matt Stone

    I think the tongue has to be firmly planted in the cheek whenever discussing dispensationalism.

  5. ed weston

    A few good sound books dealing clearly with these issues are not out of place. They are not all from the same perspective i.e. a-mill/ pre-mill but they give one a grounding and somewhere to work from. Having grown up in a dispensational/pentecostal church it came as quite a relief to read W J Grier’s The Momentous Event; Ian Murray’s The Puritan Hope; The Eschatology of Victory – Marcillus Kik; Prophecy and the Church by Oswald T Allis; Patrick Fairburn’s Interpretation Of Prophecy; Lorraine Boetnner – Post-millenialism; The case for A-millenialism and some of the more recent writers are also great – an old book by W TRotter – Plain papers on Prophetic Subjects must indeed be the height of what Darbyism, Schofieldism and sadly even McArthur peddle as to what the scriptures teach. From Grier’s book I found this gem: One day after reading through the scriptures Grier went to his wife and said he could not find any of the stuff he had always been taught about the rapture the various comings and all the rest – anywhere in the scriptures! Thankfully, she displayed good wifely sense and told him, then he had nothing further to worry about!!!!

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