Andy Woods on the postponement theory
In his recent article at Bible Prophecy blog, on The Coming Kingdom (Part 6), Andy Woods discussed the dispensational idea that Christ’s kingdom was offered to Jews, but the offer was postponed when they rejected Christ as their king.
Woods views the kingdom as conditional upon whether or not ethnic Jews believe the gospel, a doctrine that paints Christ as rather powerless, and as a wanna-be potential king whose hopes were disappointed like the runner-up in an American election campaign. But this is not the Jesus the apostles knew. Woods wrote: “The dispensational premillennialist understands that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. However, the kingdom is not a present reality since first-century Israel never satisfied the condition of faith in Christ.”
This is almost directly opposite to the New Testament teaching, which says that those Israelites who did not believe in Christ were cut off, and were no longer part of Israel, but all who believe in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, became part of the Israel of God, and the true circumcision, not made with hands. Those who are in Christ are included in the covenants of promise. [Ephesians 2:12; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11]
Woods’ postponement theory depicts “another Jesus,” not the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Paul warned the Corinthian Christians against teachers who would preach “another Jesus,” and “another gospel,” other than the one he had preached to them.
2 Corinthians 11:3-4
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Dispensationalism needs to invoke the notion of postponement of the offer of the kingdom in order to explain why Jesus taught the kingdom was to appear soon, and that it was at hand. Jesus and his disciples preached that the kingdom was at hand; the time for entering the kingdom was near. He said it was something that people should seek; search for it as if for a very precious pearl. This would fit the idea that Christ’s kingdom spans the present age, but not the idea that there was a parenthesis of about two thousand years before the kingdom could appear. Dispensationalists reject the idea that Christ is now ruling as king, which, if true, would mean we ought to obey him. The notion that the kingdom was “offered” to the Jews, but then postponed, was their explanation for why the kingdom was said to be “at hand,” in the gospel accounts, yet, as claimed in their scheme, does not now exist.
Both Peter and Paul taught that any Jew who did not believe in Christ, was cut off, as the law of Moses said. Peter said, “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” [Acts 2:22-23]
This teaching of the apostles is opposed to the postponement doctrine of dispensationalism. Paul in Romans 11:17 refers to Jews who remained in unbelief as branches broken off from their tree. He also said, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.” [Romans 9:6] This implies, unbelievers among the Jews were no longer included in Israel. Dispensationalists, along with unbelieving Jews, refuse to believe these scriptures; they insist that all ethnic Jews are still “Israel.”
Below is Woods’ discussion of the spurious postponement doctrine.
It was incumbent upon first-century Israel to enthrone Christ in order to enter into all of her covenantal blessings (Deut. 17:15). The opportunity for first-century Israel to enthrone Christ thereby bringing in the kingdom is known as “the offer of the kingdom.” This idea is captured in the expression “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” as proclaimed to the nation by John (Matt. 3:1-2), Christ (Matt. 4:17), the Twelve (Matt. 10:5-7), and the Seventy (Luke 10:1, 9). That this offer was a unique opportunity only for first-century Israel is apparent in Christ’s instructions regarding how the offer should be presented. In Matthew 10:5-7, He instructed the twelve:
“Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’”
Such a national limitation on the offer of the kingdom conveys that it was only for first-century Israel. Had first-century Israel enthroned Christ, the earthly kingdom would have become a reality for the nation and the entire world. Israel’s covenants would have been fulfilled, and the Times of the Gentiles would have terminated. Despite the unprecedented opportunity for the establishment of the messianic kingdom due to the presence of the rightful king among the first-century Jews, Israel rejected the kingdom offer (Matt. 12:24) leading to the kingdom’s postponement.
The unique opportunity for Israel to accept the kingdom offer will not re-emerge until the offer is re-extended to future Israel in the events of the Tribulation period (Matt. 24:14; Jer. 30:7). In the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24-25), Christ explains the future circumstances by which Israel will accept the offer of the kingdom. Matthew’s emphasis upon Israel’s restoration in the Olivet Discourse grows out of the final verses of the previous chapter (23:37-39). There, Christ expressed His desire to gather (episynago) Israel. Unfortunately, Israel rejected the kingdom offer at His First Advent. Christ then promises that the time would come when the nation would acknowledge Him as the Messiah by chanting a messianic Psalm (Ps. 118:26; Matt. 21:9) thus allowing Christ to return, re-gather (episynago) Israel (24:31), and reign from David’s Throne (Matt 25:31). Thus, Matt. 23:39 furnishes the condition through which Israel’s final regathering will be achieved. Until this condition of Israel’s acceptance of her Messiah has been satisfied, the kingdom cannot come to the earth. The entire Gentile world could become Christian. Yet, if tiny Israel remains in unbelief, the kingdom cannot materialize. Conversely, the entire Gentile world could reject Christ. Yet, if Israel fulfills the condition stated in Matthew 23:37-39 by accepting Jesus as the Messiah, the kingdom will materialize upon the earth. Because the Olivet Discourse and related passages teach that the condition of Jewish national acceptance of the Messiah will not be satisfied until the events surrounding the future Tribulation period have occurred, the kingdom will remain in a state of postponement until that time.
This notion of the postponement of the kingdom due to national Israel’s rejection of Christ distinguishes the premillennial, dispensational viewpoint from that of Judaism and Reformed Theology. Judaism rejects Jesus as the long-awaited Jewish Messiah since He failed to bring in the kingdom promises. A Jewish unbeliever will typically argue that Jesus was not the Messiah since Shalom or world peace and kingdom conditions (Isa. 2:4) are not a present earthly reality. Reformed Theology claims Christ succeeded in bringing in the kingdom since the kingdom promises are now being fulfilled in a spiritual sense. However, this approach ends up radically allegorizing Israel’s terrestrial promises so that they find their spiritual realization in the present Church Age. The dispensational premillennialist understands that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. However, the kingdom is not a present reality since first-century Israel never satisfied the condition of faith in Christ. Until this future national conversion transpires during the Tribulation, the kingdom remains in a state of postponement rather than in a state of present fulfillment.
Woods denies that the true Israel consists of those who are in Christ, as the apostles taught, and that the kingdom of Christ is a present reality. To deny that Jesus now reigns on the throne of David is to deny that Jesus has been made Christ. The apostle Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” [Acts 2:36] To be “made Christ” meant he fulfilled all the prophecies about Christ, who will reign upon the throne of David forever. John wrote, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?” [1 John 2:22]
Like the Jews who rejected Jesus, Woods looks for an earthly, visible kingdom. But Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” [John 3:3] The kingdom was indeed established when Jesus ascended to heaven, but it is invisible to those whose spiritual eyes God has not opened.
When Jesus took his seat in his father’s throne he fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah 2:2. He represents “the mountain of the Lord’s house” which Isaiah said would be established in the tops of the mountains, and exulted above the hills. It was raised up, to heaven. Since then, Jerusalem, to which prophecy applies, is the heavenly city, not the earthly one. Jews who reject the message of the apostles cannot see Christ’s kingdom; they missed out, and they were cut off from Israel according to the law of Moses. Gentiles who believe Jesus is indeed the Christ are grafted in.