Thursday, December 25, 2008

Raelians and the Significance of 1948

I just heard about a religious group in Israel who was planning a gay, straight, and bisexual orgy to promote world peace by encouraging uninterrupted pleasure through uninhibited sex acts. The group called the "Raelian movement," claims hundreds of members in Israel and 70,000 worldwide. They don't believe in the supernatural or in a Creator but that the Earth was implanted with life by aliens.

So my question is this. If the reestablishment of Israel was a divinely initiated event, and Romans 11:25-32 includes physical Israel, did God's promise to Abraham include the Israeli Raelians? I'm thinking less and less that it does. I've heard many people talk about the reestablishment of the nation of Israel in 1948 as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy, but does that mean all modern Israeli's are God's chosen people? And if not, then why suggest 1948 had any significance? I'm just as excited to look for possible signs of the end times as the next guy, but I think we need to avoid letting that enthusiasm compromise sound interpretation of scripture and systematic theology. The context of Rom 11 and its reference to Isaiah and Jeremiah give no indication that Paul is talking about physical people but more likely that Jeremiah's "new covenant" replaces the Abrahamic covenant by grafting in Christians and excluding those who reject it - Jews included. Paul seems pretty clear in his rebuke of Jews who think they have an automatic place in the kingdom by their lineage alone. No, it seems to me if we read the text for what it really is, there's no room to assume every citizen of Israel gets a free pass unless they accept the terms of the new covenant (with faith like that which saved Abraham himself - see Heb 11). I hope that Paul is telling us that all of Israel will convert to a true belief in Christ when he says "all of Israel will be saved," but it would contradict God's nature for him to force unrepentant, unbelieving, pagans kicking and screaming into his presence to worship him and reign with him forever. I'm still uncommitted in my eschatology, but I do think this provides a strong case for Amillennialism.

Perhaps the most troubling part about this story is that the Raelian mega-orgy made the headlines, not because it was planned in the first place, but because it was cancelled. The shock reported by the papers was not over the sexual perversity but that organizers caved in to "public pressure." What does this say about our modern world? Instead of anticipating end times, maybe we should ask if we're already there.

4 comments:

W. R. "Bubba" Brake said...

Brother Dan,
Interesting article. Few moral people would disagree with you about the Raelians and their movement. I have to qualify that statement with moral people because we just had an election were a vast majority of Americans voted into office a man they know little about. The things in his background that would raise "red flags" to logically thinking people have been completely ignored. Yes, I think we are in the end times, and the last election is part of the great delusion the Bible speaks about. However, I do not believe in the eschtology of Amillienium. Amillienium teaches that much of prophecy is figurative. I do not believe Daniel, Ezekiel or Revelation are figurative Books of the Bible.
That said, Israel is a secular country. The Minister of Tourism wants to make Tel Aviv the gay and lesbian capital of the world. This is obviously not because the government is religious but because it wants prosperity and peace, "At any price." Israel is not a religious country. The national religion is stated as Judaism but few practice it. The fact, that Israel is secular has benefited Jews for Jesus and other Messianic organizations trying to reach the Jews with the gospel. You can check these stats with Jews for Jesus but I believe they are accurate, when the State of Israel came into being in 1948 there were approximately 30 Messianic Jews (those Jews, who have accepted Jesus as their Messiah), now there are about 300,000. The Jew's secularism has made them open to their Messiah, Yeshua.
You talk about those who think the Jewish people get a free ride because of their Jewishness. I realize many Jews may think that, afterall, it is a comforting feeling to believe you are the Chosen People of God and will be accepted no matter now you carry on with your life. But this is no different than many Catholics, who believe God will accept them, no matter what, because they had "holy water" sprinkled on them as a child. Pastor John Hagee, out of Texas, is a big promoter of "Dual Covenantcy" He, and others like him, are deceiving Jews into believing they are okay with God because of their being Jewish. But Jesus stated in John 14:6, "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John Hagee is preaching a doctrine that will send Jews to eternal damnation and he is doing it out of "love".
Now your statements about the church replacing Israel. This a damnable theology. "Replacement Theology" has been the rational for the Russian pogroms, anti-semitism and the Holocaust. Our God is big enough to keep His promises to both the Nation of Israel, the Jewish people and His Church.
Shalom, shalom,
W.R. "Bubba" Brake

Dan Grossenbach said...

Impressive observations, Bill. I appreciate the respectful way you presented your view in a discussion with a fellow brother. I agree that we don't want to erroneously assume all OT prophecy is figurative. However, I don't think it's an all-or-nothing issue. I think we can determine some prophecy to be fulfilled and humbly accept others as mysteries - while still trying our best to figure it all out. God's primary intention with prophecy was to reveal His will. Our modern culture has shifted the meaning a bit to mean "predicting the future." While prophecy sometimes does tell the future, prophets spent much more time condemning current actions than predicting future events. Also, very rarely is there evidence to believe people knew what the predictions meant ahead of time. For instance, some have pointed to over 300 predictions of the coming of Christ. But it's easy for us to see this after the fact. I'm sure many if not all of those prophecies were fulfilled as intended, but on the other hand, I think it would be unfair to blame BC-era Jews for not knowing Christ would come as he did. What I'm trying to say is while some prophecy may be knowable, we might want to learn from our faithful forefathers who almost never presumed the specifics of God's plan in advance and who were very selective in referencing fulfilled prophecy in scripture. Part of their faith life was obedience to God despite the appearance of a bleak future. As I said, I'm uncommitted in my end times theology so I need to do more study on eschatology and compare the views. While there can only be one right answer, I think there's room for healthy, and interesting, debate among Christians on this issue.

Aaron said...

Bubba,

You'll have to forgive Dan...he's Lutheran!! : )

RKG said...

I think it is best to remember that those of us who hold to what is called "covenant theology", do not use the term "replacement theology" to describe our beliefs about what the Scriptures are saying. The term "replacement theology" is generally used by those who hold to a dispensational futurist view of eschatology. In this system, the modern nation-state of Israel has an important part to play in the end times.
One of the important aspects of the dispensational futurist system is the belief that the 70th week of Dan.9:27 is still seeking fulfillment; hence, the name "futurists". However, if we read the entire prophecy of Dan.9:24-27 and study what it is actually saying, we discover that the whole prophecy is Messianic in nature and that it has absolutely nothing to do with the antichrist. There are plenty of other prophecies which speak about antichrist, but Dan.9:27 is not one of them. We are left to conclude, then, that the 70th week of Daniel's prophecy was fulfilled during the time of Christ's ministry and shortly thereafter.
In fact, one could make the case that the whole dispensational futurist eschatological system is based upon the misinterpretation of this one passage found in Dan.9:24-27.