The Master’s Seminary Journal
Important to the evangelical non-dispensational understanding of Israel isChrist’s role as “true Israel.” In sum, the non-dispensational argument often goeslike this—
Jesus is the complete fulfillment of Israel. He is the “true Israel.” As aresult, all those who are “in Christ” whether Jew or Gentile are now Israel based on their identification with Christ. Thus, there is no future restoration for the nation Israel
. Or in other words, since Jesus is true Israel, those who belong to Him arenow “Israel,” so there will be no restoration of national Israel.The problem with this view is that it is not found in Scripture. In fact, it isrefuted by explicit texts in both testaments that indicate otherwise.
Our purposehere is to show that this non-dispensational understanding of what Christ as “true Israel” means for the nation Israel is not biblical.
Christ’s identificationwith Israel is the basis for national Israel’s restoration not the revocation of thenation’s significance. Because Christ identifies himself with Israel and is Israel’scorporate Head, He is able to restore the nation that currently is undergoing atemporary hardening and rejection. So instead of leading to the end of nationalIsrael’s significance in the plan of God, Christ’s identity as Israel guarantees thenation Israel’s significance. I will argue that the non-dispensational view is correctin identifying Jesus Christ with Israel but is incorrect on the implications of thistruth.
The Non-dispensational View of Christ as “True Israel”
To demonstrate the non-dispensational perspective, I will reference thewriting of four non-dispensational scholars—Robert B. Strimple, KimRiddlebarger, Russell D. Moore and Vern Poythress. All four have explicitlyaddressed the implications of Christ as “Israel” in a way that supposedly refutes thedispensational understanding of Israel. These four men have argued that Christ’sidentity as “Israel” means that the dispensational understanding of a futurerestoration of the nation Israel is in error. Before looking at their statements,though, I want to make a point of clarification. I agree with these men when theylink Jesus with Israel. The cluster of OT passages that Matthew uses to link Israel’sexperiences with Jesus in Matthew 1 and 2 indicates that Jesus has an importantconnection with Israel (compare Matt 1:22–23/Isa 7:14; Matt 2:15/Hos 11:1; Matt2:17–18/Jer 31:15). Jesus is the head of Israel and He represents everything Godintended for Israel to be. There is no problem with this understanding. What I amdisputing, though, is the
some give in regard to Jesus being identifiedwith Israel. These critics of dispensationalism are claiming that Jesus’ identificationwith Israel rules out a restoration of the nation Israel. My understanding, though, isthat Jesus’ representation of Israel is the basis for the restoration of the nation. Thisis explicitly stated in Isa 49:3–6, a passage that will be looked at later. But now our attention is on the four critics of dispensationalism.In addressing his view on Israel, the amillennialist, Strimple, states, “Thetrue Israel is Christ. He is the suffering Servant of the Lord.”
He then says, “SinceChrist is the true Israel. The true seed of Abraham, we who are
Robert B. Strimple, “Amillennialism,” in
Three Views on the Millennium and Beyond
, ed.Darrell L. Bock (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 87.