Does Israel have a distinct place in the age to come?

There are so many texts that assert a glorious place for Israel in the Age to come. Space only allows us to quote a few.

Judah will be inhabited forever and Jerusalem through all generations. (Joel 3:20)

I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; They will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them, says the Lord your God.(Amos 9:13-15)

In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains, and will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.   Many peoples will come and say, “Come let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob.  He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths. The law will go out form Zion, the word of the LORD form Jerusalem.  He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2: 1-4)

These scriptures seem to describe conditions on a renewed Earth, not in Heaven.

Note the parallel in Isaiah 11.  After the sword comes from the anointed of the LORD, the Messiah, and He slays the wicked, we read in vv. 4-9:

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, The calf and the lion and the yearling together, and a little child will lead them.  The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hold of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

This description again is of a renewed Earth.

Isaiah 2, Isaiah 19:20-24Isaiah 65, 66Zechariah 14, Malachi , Rev. 11, Acts 15, Romans 15, Rev. 21.  These passages describe a real world with real people who are wonderfully distinct.  The Age to Come is best understood as all goodness, beauty and truth that we have known in this world, redeemed and enhanced at an amazing level beyond our comprehension.

Zechariah 14 says that all nations will come up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feat of Tabernacles.  Those who do not go up will not have rain on their lands.  This does not seem to fit the everlasting Age of Consummation—ie, the eternal state in a new heavens and a new earth.

In addition, there are promises of a restored Levitical Priesthood and a restored Temple.  (Ezekiel 40-48, Jer. 33:17-18)

This idea of a restored Temple where sacrifices are offered is the most difficult of the millennial text for people whose sensibilities cannot embrace the literal idea.  Even some pre-millennialists cannot embrace it.

For pre-millennial thinkers, Revelation 20 provides an interpretive key to these passages, Satan is bound for 1000 years and the martyrs live again.  They rule and reign with Messiah for 1000 years.

If those who have embraced Yeshua are the Bride of the Messiah, then who are the guests at the wedding?  If we rule with him, who are the ruled?

How will the 12 apostles of Yeshua sit on thrones and judge the 12 tribes of Israel?

We could go on and on.   However, one can see how only a pre-millennial view ties together these many passages and makes the symbolism more coherent.  We also believe that there is an application of these same truths to every tribe, tongue and nation in the Millenium.  The literal fulfillment of prophecies to the nation of Israel causes most Messianic Jews to embrace pre-millennialism—exactly what was believed by the Apostolic church for the first few centuries.

This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, December 15, 2016, and reposted with permission.

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Dr. Daniel Juster, founder and director of Tikkun International, has been involved in the Messianic Jewish movement since 1972 and currently resides in Jerusalem, Israel, from where he serves and supports the Messianic movement worldwide. Dan was the founding president and general secretary of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations for 9 years, the senior pastor of Beth Messiah congregation for 22 years, and a co-founder of the Messiah Bible Institute in several nations. Dr. Juster serves on the board of Towards Jerusalem Council II, provides oversight to 15 congregations in the USA as well as overseeing emissaries in Israel and the Former Soviet Union. Daniel has authored about 20 books on topics ranging from theology, Israel and the Jewish people, eschatology, discipleship, and leadership.