Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dr. MacArthur Part Two

One of the key parts of Dr. John MacArthur's keynote message on defending a premillennial interpretation/hermeneutic dealt with the covenants of Scripture i.e. the Abrahamic, the Davidic, and the New Covenant. John stressed that understanding these covenants is key to dealing with prophecy. Amillennials tend to deal with end time prophecy by spiritualizing the text or treating it as allegorical. They look at the nation of Israel in terms of replacement theology or supercessionism (sp?). They view the Jews as apostate and not under divine protection. The church has replaced Israel in God's economy.

Is the Old Testament amil? Look at Genesis 12 and the Abrahamic covenant. That covenant is unconditional and perpetual. It is also by divine sovereignty. Chapters 13, 15, 17, and a host of other Scriptures underscore Gods' sovereign, divine election of Israel as a nation. There are numerous references to God's unilateralism. (Sola's aside - it has always interested me how spiritual unfaithfulness to God is compared with sexual immorality in Scripture. Terminology such as "playing the harlot" is used often by God in describing Israel's dalliances with idolatry.

In looking at how God set these covenants up, Dr. MacArthur stressed how many times you'll find the term "I will" being spoken by God. Examine Jeremiah 31. The new covenant for Israel. The blessings of the Old Covenant can't come apart from salvation. There will be salvation of ethnic Israel on a national level. (Sola's aside - I like reading Romans 9 and after on this also) Amillennials err in applying to the church what is so CLEARLY talking of Israel.

Ezekiel 36 parallels..the theme of God's sovereignty shouts throughout it all. Israel's apostasy does not change God's promises or His sovereign plan. There is no "Plan B" as some amils have said. You know, the idea that God wanted Israel as a people for Himself, but when Israel spurned him, God came up with "Plan B." (Sola's aside - why am I thinking of the old Ed Wood film "Plan 9 From Outer Space?")

John rightly said that anyone who thinks there is a "Plan B" is a fool. He went on to ask rhetorically whether Jesus, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, James etc. were amil, and then answered the question by looking at what Scripture specifically says.

Dr. MacArthur concluded with a very important point - one that all of us ought to consider. He believes - and I agree - that an amillennial position hinders Jewish evangelism. Since amils believe that Israel is finished in God's economy, beginning to witness to them from an amil position is often a non-starter. However, if one approaches from a premillennial aspect - recognizing that God is not finished with Israel, and that Messiah will return physically to earth to take up the throne of His father David, you get an entirely different opening to speak. With that, he concluded.

Again, this is a skim over a very detailed message. The conference recordings are available at the Shepherds' Conference website. My next post will be a review of C.J. Mahaney's message on the need for pastoral humility.

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