Who Owes Me Three Dollars?

June 27, 2006

Israel was a theocracy. This is not up for debate …

Filed under: Uncategorized — ineedsheetmusic @ 5:15 am

Israel was a theocracy. This
is not up for debate really. What may be debated is what a theocracy is. I like this definition from G. Vos Biblical Theology, page 125.

The theocracy never was intended to be a missionary institution in its Old Testament state. The significance of the unique organization of Israel can be rightly measured only by remembering that the theocracy typified nothing short of the perfected kingdom of God, the consummate state of Heaven. In this ideal state there will be no longer any place for the distinction between church and state. The former will have absorbed the latter . . . . The fusion between the two spheres of secular and religious life is strikingly expressed by the divine promise that Israel will be made ‘a kingdom of priests and an holy nation’ [Ex. 19:6]. As priests they are in, nay, constitute the kingdom.

Three things stand out in this definition. The first is that he sees Israel typifying the consummated, perfected kingdom of God – the state of heaven itself. The second is the idea that a theocracy consists in a completely overlapped, cotermination of the holy and the secular realms. The third is the idea that the theocracy was never intended to have a missionary impact on the surrounding culture.

How this bears on the intrusion argument is that the ethical propositions that seem to conflict with the decalogue are explained by the idea that “who is my neighbor” has a different answer in the consummation than the New Covenant age. The New Covenant age is clearly between the theocratic age and the age to come, even though we are also being built up as a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 1 Peter 2:9.


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11 Comments »

  1. So what makes Vos argue that Israel was not supposed to be a missionary community? Where is his evidence? I am completely skeptical on this one–what about the blessed to be a blessing theme that runs throughout the OT???

    Comment by Sister — June 27, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

  2. What about the provisions made for the “alien”. What about Ruth and Rahab, etc.?

    Comment by thin air — June 27, 2006 @ 3:10 pm

  3. It seems to me that the provisions were for aliens that of their volition wanted to integrate into Israel. As for being a blessing to the world, quite obviously Jesus fulfills that (which doesn’t prove that Israel was not meant to bless the world in other ways as well).

    But the theme I see in the OT is that Israel is required to segregate itself, continually demonstrating its purity by commanded modes of dress, hygeine, food, appearance, etc. Whenever Israel left that protective shell, they ended up in big trouble due to idolatry.

    Comment by son1http://ruberad.wordpress.com — June 27, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  4. Israel was supposed to model what a relationship with God looked like and so be a “light to the nations,” attracting them by their difference. They were not supposed to separate themselves in such a way as to isolate themselves.

    Comment by Sister — June 27, 2006 @ 7:52 pm

  5. P.S. I recommend the article on Urbana.org that just came out today, Missions in the Bible.

    Comment by Sister — June 27, 2006 @ 7:53 pm

  6. I think the sticky point is Vos’ use of the word “missionary”. Even though I agree with it. Here is another Vos quote from the same book, same page: “The chief end for which Israel had been created was not to teach the world lessons in political economy, but in the midst of a world of paganism to teach true religion, even at the sacrifice of much secular propaganda and advantage.”

    Israel had her hands full trying to keep covenant with God. God did not make this covenant with the “goyim”. So whether or not Israel was supposed to be isolationist I don’t think was something Israel really thought about.

    That the covenant promise being a blessing is to be seen in Christ is correct. Reading Genesis 12:3b “And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” through the lens of consummation intrusion shows both the curse and blessing of the final day of the Lord.

    It is also correct that the Israelites lost their position in the theocracy through idolatry and other failures. Their “shining light on a hill” became a bad testimony. They were sent into exile.

    Another point is whether Jonah’s commission was a missionary venture or was it a warning of the destruction that was to come as a punishment (consummation curse) for sin?

    It is also interesting to note that God gave these instructions in Jer 29 for the Israelites in exile: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens, and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.”

    Blend in, don’t attempt to bring about change to the culture.

    So, black and white, it isn’t. God had a lot more going on than just a day-of-the-Lord typifying intrusion.

    Comment by Bruce S — June 28, 2006 @ 2:38 am

  7. So what is “in the midst of a world of paganism to teach true religion” if not what today we call “missionary”? Yes, of course the ultimate blessing of Gen12 is Christ and of course Israel failed, but neither of those realities mitigates their calling.

    Comment by Sister — June 28, 2006 @ 12:52 pm

  8. I think Vos was careless using the word teach. I think demonstrate might have been better. But I just don’t see being missional as part of the covenant stipulations. It seems obvious to me that the bringing in of the gentiles wasn’t scheduled to occur in any other way than through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thinking otherwise leads to speculation regarding some possible plan for history other than what occurred in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Goglgotha. Was Jesus a “plan B” in case the Israelites failed in their mission to spread their gospel?

    Israel’s mission was to keep covenant with God and by their repeated failures to obey the law should have (as their prophets told them) looked to another who would keep covenant with God.

    To see the great commission to the Israelite community would require clear scriptural data.

    Comment by Bruce S — June 28, 2006 @ 2:50 pm

  9. Hey, I read this passage not too long ago.

    Would you say that God’s primary intent for the nation of Israel was to preserve the seed that would eventually lead to the birth of the Savior?

    Comment by Mike S — June 30, 2006 @ 2:46 am

  10. Not only Israel but the entire line from Seth, Noah, Shem, Eber, Peleg, Nahor, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, etc. So, yes.

    Comment by Bruce S — June 30, 2006 @ 5:20 pm

  11. I wonder whether Jer 29 is saying blend in (i.e. intermarry with your captors), or don’t get disheartened and let the seed die out. One possible attitude to being in exile would be “Well, I’d love to give my daughter to your son, but things are so uncertain since we’re in exile; let’s just get back to Jerusalem first, and then we can get on with life”

    So maybe God was just warning them, it’s going to be a long time, so you need to keep the nation of Israel going in exile, so that there will still be a remnant that I can send back home in 70 years. Would an israelite have heard in that prophecy that God was countermanding previous instructions not to intermingle?

    Just a thought.

    Comment by RubeRadhttp://ruberad.wordpress.com — June 30, 2006 @ 5:34 pm


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