Thursday, May 7, 2020

Through the Strainer

Lately I have been talking to a friend and fellow Israelite about the dispensational doctrine which, according to what I had heard in the past, typically sections biblical history into periods of ‘divine’ ages (while including, of course, the so-called rapture of the ‘church’ before the great tribulation). Other than these points, I didn’t know much more about this doctrine and its views of Scripture at large.  Probing a little deeper, and reading on “dispensationalism” and its definition, I found that its main tenant is a literal approach to Scripture.  Here is a quote: “Dispensationalism has two primary distinctives: 1) a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy, and 2) a view of the uniqueness of Israel as separate from the Church in God’s program.  Classical dispensationalism identifies seven dispensations in God’s plan for humanity”.

The separation mentioned above puzzled me.  If in accordance with this view, Biblical prophecy is treated literally, like Jeremiah 31:31: "Behold, the days are coming, says YHVH, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah” – how can there be a disconnection or variance regarding what is actually being said?   The new covenant spoken of by the prophet and its literal inauguration, took place when Israel’s Redeemer, the Messiah of Israel, came to establish and confirm it by shedding His blood (see Hebrews 9).  The Father then raised Yeshua back into His glory, in order that He could restore the house of Jacob and set up the everlasting kingdom (ref. Luke 1: 31-33).   The uniting of the two houses of Israel (ref. Isaiah 8:14) is at the very heart of the new covenant.  Is this not “the hope of Israel” that the apostle spoke about in Acts 28:20?

The dispensationalists, it seems, are of the opinion that the words of the prophets of old regarding the Messiah’s coming, His suffering, death and the shedding of His blood in order to establish the new covenant (see 1 Cor. 11:25), are quite literal. Therefore, how can there be a “separation” placed between the recipients of the message, when the Messiah of Israel had an actual down to earth, physical, coming to and for a real physical people who are the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”?  In Yeshua’s own words: "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24).  One has to conclude that Jeremiah 31:31’s new covenant pertains specifically and literally to the houses of Jacob/Israel.  "My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; they have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place” (Jeremiah 50:6, see also Ezekiel 34). There has to be a consistency and a literal connectedness between the Tanach and the books of the Brit Chadasha, otherwise YHVH’s Word (Yeshua) is not “the same yesterday, today and forever” (ref. Hebrews 13:8).  Are His people ‘of the Tanach’ no longer the same as those ‘of the New Covenant’?

Yeshua pointed out that the problem was not with the lost sheep, but with the shepherds who have been leading them astray.  He also made it very clear as to Who He was, and as to why He came: "I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. And other sheep I have [Israel/Ephraim] which are not of this fold [Judah]; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd” (John 10:14-16).  These statements echo very clearly Ezekiel 34 and 37.

When the time came for the message of this new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah to go out from Jerusalem into the nations, Yeshua commanded His called-out ones to "…go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand'” (Matthew 10:6-7).  The apostles knew exactly what message to bring to the nations, and whom they were anointed to call out of darkness into His (Yeshua’s) marvelous light.  It is no wonder, therefore, that the gospel which they taught was from the Torah of Moses and the Prophets (Acts 28:23).  

According to YHVH’s point of view, His two flocks were in desperate need of a Savior, especially from the Lion (world’s religious system epitomized by Babylon), the Bear (prowess of man, symbolized by the Median and Persian powerful armies), and the Leopard (embodied by the Greek-Hellenistic philosophies and mindset).

Israel and Judah were both steeped in idolatry and adultery, all the while Israel/Ephraim wandered among the nations where they became, literally, one with the heathens.   So much so, that they completely lost their identity as YHVH’s fold. They truly fit the lost sheep stereotype.  But through their shame, disgrace and dishonor YHVH was going to reveal His grace and honor, by keeping His covenants and promises. Ezekiel 34 culminates with the Shepherd of Israel’s summation:   "I will raise up for them a garden of renown, and they shall no longer be consumed with hunger in the land, nor bear the shame of the Gentiles anymore. Thus they shall know that I, YHVH their Elohim, am with them, and they, the house of Israel, are My people,’ says Adonai Elohim.  You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your Elohim,’ says Adonai Elohim” (Ezekiel 34:30-31). YHVH is looking at these sheep as those who are of the natural seed of the forefathers.  As we know from the prophet Hosea, He called the house of Israel/Ephraim “Not my People”. But while mixed in the nations, they became speckled sheep so that, like Jacob’s spotted sheep, they could be separated out by Him when the time comes.  (to be continued)


  1. This series is a blessing already! I too didn't take the time to look into the specifics of the dispensational viewpoint. I never thought this viewpoint was considered a literal interpretation of Scripture. Wow! Did they ever miss the mark!

  2. All to often we have faith creep. Doctrines like this creep into our walk if we do not keep our walk with God fresh. Pursuit of Biblical Truth.