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My Full Preterist Response to the Michael Brown v. Gary DeMar Debate Over Israel in Bible Prophecy – Part 2 Ezek. 36:22-24; Lk. 21:24; Rom. 11:25-27

Introduction

Since Dr. Michael Brown has agreed to debate me over 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 (of which I am affirming that tongues ceased in AD 70 at the Second Coming event to close the OC age), I have been listening to his various debates on You Tube in order to get acquitted with his theology.  In doing so, I couldn’t help but write some brief reviews and thoughts on those debates that I have watched thus far.

In part 1 I looked at his debate with James White and we examined some failures for both men in their expositions of Matthew 23:37-39 either in the areas of God’s sovereignty,  eschatology or both.

In part 2 of this series we are now turing our attention to looking at Brown’s debate with Gary DeMar over modern day Israel’s role in Bible prophecy.  In this case as well we see both men failing and falling short of the Bible’s teaching when they emphasize either Israel’s literal land (Brown’s Zionist Premillennialism) as the focus, or inheriting the literal earth (DeMar’s Postmillennialism) as the focus of OT and NT prophecy.

Dr. Michael Brown claims he is not a Premillennial Dispensationalist, Amillennialist, or Postmillennialist, so he must be a Historic Premillennialist.  He takes issue with Reformed eschatology and Preterism in general, claiming we hold to a form of “replacement theology” which he finds “dangerous” to his version of an apologetic ministriy to modern day Israel.  This was the main focus of his debate with Gary DeMar.  Yet oddly some Evangelical ministries and publications define Brown’s own view in the following way,

“Historic Premillennialism believes that the church has replaced Israel as God’s covenant people.  Also known as “covenant premillennialism,” historic premillennialism treats a 1000-year millennium as a literal future event.”[1]

Then there is the issue that Jesus Himself taught that in the coming judgment and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 Israel’s kingdom would be “taken” from her and “given” to a nation (the Church) bearing the fruits thereof (Matt. 21:43-45).

In listening to Dr. Brown’s various debates there seems to be a few “go to” passages he feels supports him being a modern day “Jewish” Christian “Zionist” and his apologetic ministry to modern day Israel.  Dr. Brown seems to be piecing Luke 21, Ezekiel 36 and Romans 11 together in this way:

1.  Jesus predicted that Israel would be scattered in AD 70 according to Luke 21:24.

2.  But Ezekiel 36 teaches that Israel will once again be gathered in unbelief and that happened in 1948.

3.  Once the gospel is preached throughout the entire globe (“the times of the Gentiles” as he sees it) post AD 70, this will provoke Israel to jealousy and thus cause a majority among Israel to repent and be saved before the Second Coming (Rom. 11).

There are several problems for Brown’s exegesis of each of these texts, let alone how he then strings them together to form an unbiblical Zionist eschatology.

 Ezekiel 36:22-24

Dr. Brown seems to think Ezekiel 36 supports a gathering of Israel back into her land in “unbelief” (apparently in 1948).  And yet according to the law and prophets Israel was driven out of her land because of sin and disobedience, and then was only gathered back into her land through repentance and faith in renewing the covenant with Jehovah (Deut. 30:1-5).

Ezekiel 36:24-27 is not teaching that Israel is gathered back into the land in unbelief (ie. 1948) and then many years later (decades / hundreds or thousands of years) He will cause them to believe on a massive scale before Messiah returns a second time.  These verses simply state two things:  1. When Israel was to be restored to the land, 2.  It would be an act of God giving and granting repentance for those returning (for His great names sake).  God putting a “new spirit” within them and restoring them back to the land in type form is described for us in the next chapter as God raising Israel from the dead when He would, “…make breath enter you, and you will come to life” (Ezekiel 37).  This restoration back into the land happened under Ezra and Nehemiah in type form.

The Messianic New Covenant “gathering” is the spiritual anti-type.  Israel is back in her land from the restoration of Ezra and Nehemiah, when Christ comes in her last days (roughly from AD 30 – AD 70) and begins gathering her (a remnant and Gentile believers) “in Christ” and then consummately into a spiritual and glorified temple/city/land in AD 70 at His parousia.

Luke 21:24

“They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”

In Brown’s debate with Gary DeMar,[2] Brown kept insisting that it is inconsistent to have a literal scattering and judgment for Israel in AD 70 (Lk. 21:24) and then turn around and have a spiritual “gathering” (Matt. 24:31) for Israel post AD 70.

First, let me respond to DeMar’s eisegesis of the “gathering” of (Matt. 24:30-31).  The eschatological “gathering” at the “end of the age” has already been identified by Jesus in Matthew 13:39-43 to be the time of the resurrection of Daniel 12:2-3.  Matthew 24:30-31 is not a SECOND global Postmillennial Great Commission by which all nations of the world are Christianized and or inherited before a third “the parousia” (DeMar’s view) takes place.  This creates problems for DeMar since he publishes Joel McDurmon and James Jordan whom (when you combine their works) identify Daniel being raised from the dead at the end of Jesus’ OC “this age” spiritually in AD 70 (Matt. 13:39-43/Dan. 12:2-3).  Matthew 24:30-31 is not a second Great Commission post AD 70, but rather the consummation of the Great Commission already addressed in Matthew 24:14 (which DeMar concedes was fulfilled by AD 70).

Secondly, in regards to Brown’s argument that it seems inconsistent to have a literal judgment scattering in AD 70 while at the same time having a spiritual (consummate – Full Preterist) “gathering” of salvation for believers.  Of course there is no contradiction since this is the difference between a judgment coming upon the physical type (OC Jerusalem from below – present in Paul’s day), and the salvation of the spiritual anti-type (NC Jerusalem from above) taking place at the same time.

Thirdly, “Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” is referring to Israel’s OC kingdom being subject to Gentile rule (cf. Dan. 7 – Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome).  The coming of the Son of Man and inheritance of the kingdom was to take place at the coming of the Son of Man in the AD 30 – AD 70 “this generation” during the time of the Roman Empire – the last “Gentile” kingdom within the “times of the Gentiles” – (Dan. 2; 7; Lk. 21:24-32).

Revelation 11 / Luke 21 Parallels

“And leave out the court which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations; and they will tread under foot the holy city for forty-two months.” (Rev. 11:2)

Allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture, we can readily connect Revelation 11:2b with Luke 21:24 (which was fulfilled in AD 70):

[A]nd they [“the nations”] will trample under foot the holy city for forty-two months. (Rev. 11:2b)

. . . Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the nations until the times of the nations [“forty-two months”] be fulfilled. (Lk. 21:24)

In both of these verses, the nations trample Jerusalem for a period of time. There is more than similarity of language here. Jesus and John prophesied the same event —an event that was

“near” and that took place in Christ’s “ this generation” (Lk. 21:32; Rev. 1:3; 22:10). Therefore, “forty-two months” signifies some months or years between AD 66 and 70, the years of the war that ended in the destruction of the city and the sanctuary. That was the same period of time that the angel called “a time, times, and half a time” in Daniel 12:7 and which was consummated when the power of the Old Testament “holy people” was shattered in AD 70.

Fourthly, before leaving Brown and the Olivet Discourse, in his debate with Immanuel Schochet, Dr. Schochet claimed Jesus was a false Messiah because His Second Coming didn’t take place within His contemporary “this generation” (Matt. 24:34).  Brown’s response was more than troubling when he attempted to interpret genea “generation” as the entire “Jewish race” would not pass away before Jesus returned.  If Jesus wanted to give the meaning of “Jewish race” here  He would have used the Greek word genos which means, “kindred, offspring, family, stock, tribe, nation – i.e. nationality or descent from a particular people.”[3]

Romans 11:25-27

It was very disappointing to see Brown debate Gary DeMar and both men not interact with DeMar’s (or James Jordan’s) Full Preterist interpretation of all Israel being saved by AD 70 in Romans 11.  If Brown had read them, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so supportive of Gary’s Postmillennialism at the end of their debate?  After all some Postmillennialists such as Jordan believe post AD 70 there are no real covenantal or ethnic “Jews” today – especially since the genealogies were destroyed in the fires of AD 70.  After all isn’t that what DeMar was getting at when he was asking Brown what tribe he was from?  Not sure that would have went over really well, maybe that is why DeMar didn’t develop his point?[4]  Instead DeMar seemed to be saying that their differences weren’t that big of a deal since Brown wants to emphasize the Jews inheriting the literal land of Israel, DeMar wants to emphasize that God is giving Israel the physical planet as an inheritance.  So after all he is the bigger “literalist” when it comes to land promises seems to be his point.  So let me first address Romans 11 and then address DeMar’s failures[5] in his debate with Brown on the land/earth promises.

As for the view that “all Israel” refers to ethnic Jews in our future, we can immediately know that this view is incorrect. With the passing of the old covenant in AD 70, there is no covenantal Israel other than the united Jew-Gentile church – the Israel of God. The things of the old order passed away. So the covenant promises in Romans 11 cannot refer to the modern nation of Israel or to the modern Jewish race or community. The only “Israel” in the New Testament that was to be cleansed from sin is the Jew-Gentile church, the body of Israel’s Messiah. This is the “Israel” (“all” of it) that entered into the Holiest of Holies in AD 70 (Heb. 9:8). Let us briefly summarize Paul’s argument in Romans 11.

Even though God’s old covenant people in their last generation were being hardened and excluded from the coming inheritance, that did not mean that God had rejected old covenant Israel (Rom. 11:1– 2). Although it may have looked like Israel was being utterly cut off in her last generation, the truth was that old covenant Israel was being saved in her last days. God was actually saving “all Israel”—fulfilling His promises to “the fathers”—partly by means of the hardening of its last generation. Here’s how:

  1. By means of old covenant Israel’s transgression/failure and rejection in her last days, riches and reconciliation (through the gospel) were coming to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46; 18:6; 28:18). As Paul said, “They are enemies for your sakes.” (Rom. 11:28)
  1. The salvation of the Gentiles was making last days Israel “jealous,” so that a remnant was becoming zealous for righteousness and being saved. (Rom. 11:2–10,11,13,14)
  1. The hardening, or reprobation, of old covenant Israel in her last generation was to continue until the fullness of the Gentiles came in, i.e., came into Israel. (Rom. 11:25)
  1. In this manner, or by this process, all of the saints of historic, old covenant Israel were going to be saved (resurrected) along with the last days remnant, and with the believing Gentiles who had been grafted into historic Israel. The consummation of this process took place in the Parousia of Christ in AD 70, according to the promises made to the fathers. (Rom. 11:26)

That is when Israel died, and was raised up a new covenant, matured and spiritually transformed Israel. That is when all of the elect (the Old Testament saints, the last days Jewish remnant, and the believing Gentiles) were consummately united in Christ and became the fulfilled “Israel of God.” It was thus or in this manner in which all Israel was saved.

Brown also believes that God is not done with Israel’s prophetic significance in the land today, since the Great Commission has yet to be fulfilled.  However, once again Jesus and Paul differ with Mr. Brown.  Jesus says the Great Commission would be fulfilled in their generation (Matt. 24:14, 34; Mrk. 13:10) and Paul uses the same exact Greek words Jesus uses in Colossians and Romans to prove that it had been fulfilled through his ministry toward the end of that generation (Cols. 1:5-27; Rom. 10:18; 16:25-26).

Hebrews 11:10-16; 13:14YLT

I found it interesting that DeMar appealed to Hebrews 11 (Abraham’s land promise was to be fulfilled spiritually) to refute Brown’s Zionist claims of Israel inheriting the land post AD 70.  It was ironic in that he claimed his mistake ultimately is that his literal hermeneutic concerning literal land or real estate isn’t big enough – claiming Abraham or Israel is to inherit the entire planet earth before Christ comes.  That made no sense.  It doesn’t make much sense on another level in that DeMar interprets the passing of the heaven and earth and the arrival of the new in Matthew 5:17-18; 24:35; 2 Pet. 3; Rev. 21 as being spiritually fulfilled at Christ’s parousia in AD 70.  DeMar’s hermeneutic is more than inconsistent when it comes to what the Bible teaches on inheriting a spiritual or literal land/heaven and earth.

Here was our response in House Divided Bridging the Gap in Reformed Eschatology to Gary DeMar concerning an alleged future land and or earthly real estate promise yet to be fulfilled before Christ comes.

Abraham Must Inherit the Land

God promised Abraham that both he and his descendants would inherit the land (Acts 7:5). But Abraham never inherited the land. Only his de- scendants did. Therefore, Abraham has to be resurrected in the flesh in our future so that he can inherit the land (i.e., all the land on the planet, according to Romans 4:13 and other scriptures).

Our response:

Believers are the one body of Christ, the Seed, and they are blessed with Abraham (Gal. 3:9, 16, 18, 28-29). When God promised Abraham that all nations would be blessed in him, God was talking about the justification of the world through faith in the blood of Christ (Gal. 3:6-8, 14, 22, 26- 27, 28). The promise is not real estate; it is the Spirit of God (Gal. 3:14). Abraham, with all the saints, received the fulfillment of that promise.

We err if we make real estate [Israel’s land – Brown or the entire earth – DeMar] the consummation of the Abrahamic promise. Abraham himself did not consider the land of Canaan or any other tract of real estate to be the ultimate goal of God’s promise. Abraham looked for, and saw from afar, the City that was made, built, and prepared by God Himself (Heb. 11:10, 13, 16). Abraham looked for the country that would come down from out of heaven (Heb. 11:14-16; Rev. 21:2).

This heavenly land is not and never will be literal real estate. It is the heavenly Tabernacle of God (Rev. 21:3). When Paul said that Abraham would inherit “the world” in Romans 4:13, he was not saying that Abra-ham would be given the deed to all the land on planet Earth. Paul was speaking of people, specifically, Jew and Gentile believers in all nations (Rom. 4:11-12, 16-17).

Abraham himself has indeed already inherited the land, along with his descendants. He inherited the land in AD 70. That is when the fleshly, unbelieving owners of the earthly real estate of shadow were cast out of the kingdom, and when Abraham and his true descendants inherited the heavenly Land of promise:

“[M]any shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

But the children of the kingdom [the unbelieving Jews] shall be cast out into outer darkness [in AD 70]: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:11-12; cf. Gal. 4:22-31).

Conclusion

 As we have seen Dr. Brown has to misinterpret various passages and then string them together in order to come up with a theology that supports his apologetic ministry to modern day Israel.  Yet his “Jewish” opponents regularly refer to his 2,000+ years and counting Second Coming of Jesus doctrine a “cop-out” in which the Christian Messiah could not accomplish salvation in the time frame He claimed, and in the literal way the OT prophets predicted.  Brown has failed in responding to them both on the timing of Messiah fulfilling ALL OT promises (the AD 70 “this generation” Lk. 21:20-22, 32) and in the spiritual nature of fulfilling them (Lk. 17:20-21).

God is no longer dealing with Israel under the physical types and shadows of the OC promises.  Post AD 70, modern day Israel is just like any other unbelieving nation today that needs the gospel.

[1] Timothy Paul Jones, Four Views of the End Times, DISPENSATIONAL PREMILLENNIALISM, HISTORIC PREMILLENNIALISM, AMILLENNIALISM, POSTMILLENNIALISM, (Torrance, CA:  ROSE PUBLISHING, 2006), 5.

[2] The Brown-DeMar Debate: Has the Church replaced Israel?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKJwH7_5QqU

[3] Michael J. Sullivan, “This Generation” (Matt. 24:34) and God’s New Exodus, http://www.treeoflifeministries.info/index.php?view=article&catid=35%3Apreterist-eschatology-all-prophecy-fulfilled-by-ad-70&id=151%3Amike-sullivan&option=com_content&Itemid=77

[4] Gary DeMar, All Israel will be saved: Notes on Romans 11:26, American Vision http://americanvision.org/1234/all-israel-will-be-saved-notes-onromans/#.UG3auVGJr3A. James B. Jordan, The Future of Israel Re-examined, July 1991. Biblical Horizons, No. 27 July, 1991

[5] Don Preston did a much better job in debating Brown on this issue:  Dr. Brown v. Dr. Preston on Romans 11 Part 1 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1fP1xB1gsM and Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nil6JytDD_M

 

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