Home > Christ's kingdom, Dispensationalism, Promised land, The Gospel > Israel will be planted in their own land

Israel will be planted in their own land

June 24, 2012

In a blog post titled More on Acts 1:6-7 etc, “mac” argues that those verses support the idea of an earthly materialistic kingdom, and he says that Acts 1:6 “challenges the supercessionist view.”

What does Acts 1:6 teach? After the resurrection of Jesus, his disciples asked if he was about to establish his kingdom, which was a very natural question for them to ask. At that time, the Holy Spirit, which would later enlighten their understanding, was not yet given. Very likely, the disciples were thinking in terms of an earthly, political kingdom, and the restoration of national Israel.

Acts 1:6
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Jesus replied that it was not given to them to know “the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” They, and all generations of Christians since, would expect his coming throughout their lives, in their own generation. This belief has characterized the church over the centuries, and nothing Jesus said undermined that expectation. But Jesus promised to send the Spirit.

Acts 1:7-8
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Mac clings to the older, classical variety of dispensationalism, rather than the newer, progressive view. His comments on Acts 1:6 focus on a question, and he tries to imply from the nature of the question, that an earthly, material kingdom was meant. Yet Jesus had said, when he was before Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” [John 18:36]

The answer Jesus gave to the disciples’ question in Acts 1:6 was ambiguous, and so it gives no support for mac’s view of the kingdom of God as a yet future, earthly, political one, in which Jews will be exulted over the Gentiles.

Mac discussed comments by Rev Stephen Sizer, and then referred to Amos 9:15, which says that God will plant Israel in their own land, and they will not be rooted up from it; mac wrote:

Amos 9:15 declares:
“I will also plant them on their land, And they will not again be rooted out from their land Which I have given them,” Says the LORD your God.”
Was God speaking metaphorically?

Of course the words of Amos 5:15 are metaphorical! When the prophet spoke of planting, and being rooted out, he must be speaking metaphorically. These terms imply that Israel is some kind of a shrub, or tree, or a vine. These would need to be planted in the ground in order to flourish and grow. Metaphorical and parabolic language are normal in prophecy.

God’s promise of land to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to Israel, led to the development of several prophetic themes in the writings of the prophets. The promised land was the place of divine revelations, and the oracles of God. The calling of Abraham, and the promises given to him, and to his descendants, are the focus of most of the book of Genesis, and Israel’s anticipated possessing the land, taking possession of it, dwelling in the land, and the loss of the land represents the motif of the Old Testament. The languages spoken by the Israelites, and by those dwelling in the land of Canaan, were the languages of the original Scriptures. Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem were the subjects of several prophecies that in the New Testament, are adapted and applied to the church.

The Israelites received the oracles of God, which the apostle Peter said are recorded for the benefit of the church. He said of the prophets, “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you…” [1 Peter 1:12]

The territory of the promised land represents the word of God, and spiritual things promised to the saints, including the truth, while lands of the Gentiles where Israel was exiled and taken captive represent delusions. The various kinds of landforms, and natural phenomena, such as stars, and the sun and moon, have a spiritual significance. Rivers may represent themes of spiritual truth; mountains may represent promises and blessings of God, and covenants; valleys may represent judgments.

In the symbolic language of prophecy, dynasties and governments of the nations are represented by wild animals, such as lions, bears, leopards; kings are represented by horns. False prophets are represented by tails, or by serpents, or predatory animals such as wolves. The symbols of light and dark, day and night, picture the enlightenment of the gospel vs. ignorance about God’s plan, and the hope and destiny of man. Saints are represented by stars. The gospel, and Christ’s kingdom, are represented by the sun which clothes the woman in the prophecy of Revelation 12:1. The woman represents the church, the heavenly Jerusalem.

Various individuals and prophets in Israel’s history illustrate and illuminate God’s plan for the church. The city of Jerusalem was to be raised up, and thus, after Christ ascended to heaven, prophecies and promises about Jerusalem apply to the heavenly city, where Christ reigns as king upon the throne of David.

Dispensationalism blinds men to most of the things mentioned above. It is a system of unbelief, opposed to the truth of the gospel. The classical form of dispensationalism denies the following:

  1. Jerusalem and the mountain of the Lord’s house were raised up, as foretold in Isaiah 2:2, when Christ ascended to God’s throne
  2. the prophets ministered to the church, rather than to unbelieving Jews [1 Peter 1:12]
  3. Christians inherit the promises made to Israel [Ephesians 2:12-13]
  4. ethnic Jews who reject Christ are cut off from Israel [Acts 3:23]
  5. Jesus now reigns upon David’s throne [Acts 2:36]

Isaiah 2:2 said Jerusalem and the mountain of the Lord’s house would be raised up, to the tops of the mountains, which was fulfilled in Christ, after his resurrection. Paul referred to “the Jerusalem which is above” and Hebrews 12:22 says “ye are come to mount Sion, and the heavenly Jerusalem.” Christ reigns as king over the Israel of God, in the heavenly Jerusalem, the church.

The meaning of Israel being “planted in their own land” is evident when we consider that Israel in the prophecy refers to the spiritual seed of Abraham, those who are “in Christ;” and that Christ is the land in which they will be planted. In the mosaic law, the priests and Levites received no inheritance of land, but the Lord was their inheritance in lieu of land.