Paul Benson – An anti Dispensational Bottomless Bucket (Part 4)
One of the most crucial things to consider when studying the end-times, is how God dealt with his people the Jews in the past, how He is dealing with them now, and how He will be dealing with them in the future. Failure to understand this will certainly lead to error, misconception and even deception. We need to realize and acknowledge God’s separate dispensational programmes with the Jews and the Gentiles because that’s the only way how we will ever know what Jesus meant when He said to his twelve disciples,
Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Matthew 10:5-6),
Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.” (Matthew 9:35).
And why Paul wrote,
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17).
References to “their synagogues,” “the gospel of the kingdom,” and “among the people” clearly show that the initial thrust of Jesus Christ’s evangelistic outreach was to the Jews and not the Gentiles. The question is, why? The short answer is, because “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) and therefore first and foremost for the Jews. The more elaborate answer is, because God promised the Jews an eternal inheritance of the land of Israel, as it was mapped out originally during Joshua’s lifetime.
Gentile Christians often think that because the nation of Israel rejected their Messiah when He first appeared on earth and consequently forfeited their kingdom inheritance, only a small remnant of the nation of Israel will in the end be grafted into the New Covenant. As such, the New Covenant supersedes the Old Testament covenants God inimitably made with Israel. Although Christians who pander to this view do not support replacement theology, their outlook on Israel comes very close to a form of replacement theology. On page 29 of his book “The Pre-trib Rapture: A Bucket Full of Holes,” Paul Benson writes:
One of the most grievous errors of the pre-trib doctrine is that it presents a salvation for national Israel apart from the Work of the Cross. They teach their salvation is different than ours; that it is bestowed upon them through O.T. promises, and they will inherit that promise through lineage. This is a gross misrepresentation of the Scriptures, and is outright heresy! Neither the O.T. Saints nor the (supposed) non-Church tribulation Saints will be saved apart from grace through faith.
Dispensationalism teaches the age of grace comes to an end at the ‘rapture’ before the start of the great tribulation; and the tribulation Saints are saved by showing their faith through their martyrdom. BUT this concept of self-redemption is more in line with Islamic doctrine than the doctrine of the Bible! Jesus clearly taught he is the Door, and the only door, into the Kingdom of God.
None of the Pre-trib scholars I know have ever presented a salvation for national Israel apart from the work of the cross or taught a salvation different from ours (the Gentiles). His assertion is yet another one of his poorly thought-out attacks to vilify the Pre-tribulation Rapture. For instance, had he made any unbiased effort to study the covenants (promises) God has made with Israel, he would have known that ancestral lineage in Jewish history has a formidable bearing on all the covenants God made with Israel.
In fact, the importance of Jewish lineage, in terms of salvation and God’s dispensational promises to the Jews, was firmly articulated when the angel Gabriel first appeared to Joseph, who secretly wanted to divorce his pregnant bride to be because he thought she was unfaithful to him, and then later to Mary.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. (Matthew 1:18-21).
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:28-33).
The first, and obviously the primary and most important message, was given to Joseph, that is, the message of salvation unto the Jews as a nation. The promise “He shall save his people from their sins” does not in any which way possible mean that He would save those who had supposedly been predestined and chosen to be saved before the foundation of the world, as do the Calvinists believe and proclaim. “His people,” and here the importance of lineage cannot be denied, are the Jews.
The second and equally important announcement in terms of God’s promises to the Jews, was made to Mary and relates to Christ Jesus’ eternal reign from the throne of his father David in Jerusalem when He returns at his Second Coming (not the Rapture) to establish his Millennial reign of peace on earth. These two promises, the salvation and kingdom inheritance on earth of the remnant of the Jewish nation, and not a remnant comprising of both Jews and Gentiles, have not yet been realized. It will only come to pass when Jesus returns at his Second Advent to the earth (not the Rapture).
Paul very plainly makes it clear that the manner of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles is the same, although the sequence of God’s presentation of salvation differs, that is, to the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile). Hence his statement, “to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: . . . In short, God’s dealing with both Jews and Gentiles, although the Jews have a position of priority, is perfectly righteous and just, because both are saved through faith and faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. (Jews and Gentiles alike) (Romans 11:27-32).
Paul recognized this divine priority and always presented the Gospel to his own people first, and then turned his attention to the Gentiles when the Jews rejected his message. Because the Jews:-
- are God’s chosen people (Romans 11:1).
- The custodians of God’s revelation (Romans 3:2).
- And the people through who Christ came into the world (Romans 9:5).
God’s Covenantal Dealing with Jews and Gentiles
Paul Benson writes on pages 29 and 30 of his book,
The pre-trib theory rests firmly upon the notion of God dealing with national Israel as his chosen elect apart from his dealings with the Church. Proving God’s true elect are a Remnant body composed of a blending of Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ means God deals with them in a singular manner and at the same time. This sets aside any notion of God removing the Church before the tribulation so he can concentrate on his ‘Jewish elect’. He has been concentrating on them for 2000 years in Christ!
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Is God going to split the ‘one new man in Christ’ he created in half, and subject half to the (supposed) ‘wrath of God’ during the tribulation; but take the other half off to a wedding feast that only half the Bride is in attendance of? This is the kind of unreasonable conclusions Dispensational theology presents. When confronted with the Biblical truth of election the pre-trib theory becomes quite nonsensical. Many other aspects of this folly could be highlighted but I think you get the point.
Paul Benson’s focus on salvation alone (being in Christ) as the only factor that determines the true meaning of election, is unfortunate. If the angel Gabriel did not set his mind on salvation alone but also on God’s dealing with Israel with regard to the tribulation (Daniel’s seventieth week) and the Millennial Kingdom on earth, when he announced Jesus’ birth to Mary, then Benson dare not to ignore it. God’s election of the entire nation of Israel involves a larger scope of truths than just redemption. Please don’t misunderstand me.
Salvation through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross has always been, is, and shall always be the only way to heaven, and, this must be stressed with sturdy conviction, to ratify all the promises God made to Israel. Unbelief disqualifies individuals from entering into the final and ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel; it does not annul the promises itself. It is for this very reason that unbelieving Jews are called the “children of the kingdom” (Matthew 8:12) despite their disobedience and rebellion. Allow me to explain why this is so. But first we need to examine some of the things Paul Benson said in the quote above which, as most of his other refutations of the Pre-tribulation Rapture, is a sham.
Paul of Northwest Montana says, “He (God) has been concentrating on them for 2000 years in Christ.”
Paul of Tarsus says:
(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. (Romans 11:8-10)
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: (Romans 11:15-20).
Paul of Tarsus and King David must have been hallucinating when they wrote that God has given them eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear to impress on our hearts how God has been concentrating on them for 2000 years in Christ. Furthermore, they must have been delirious to have missed Paul of Northwest Montana’s Solomonic wisdom, declaring that their cutting off from the olive tree is a glorious blessing for the Jews, which has been going on for 2000 years in Christ. Moreover, Paul Benson himself must be deliriously absent-minded to think that God’s indictment, “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block and a recompense unto them” is his way of expressing his concentration on the Jews for 2000 years in Christ. The term “in Christ” seems to have taken on a whole new meaning in Benson’s new translation of the Bible.
Who would ever have thought that a curse like “Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumbling block, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always” could be a glorious blessing IN CHRIST. Wow! How far does Paul Benson intend to go with his mockery of Christ and the Pre-tribulation Rapture? If God has been concentrating on the Jews in Christ for more than 2000 years, then, poor Gentiles have no hope, unless of course Paul’s affirmation, “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy” (Romans 11:11) can be trusted as being the truth and nothing but the truth.
One Man in Christ
Paul Benson’s groping in the dark gets worse in his FOOD4THOUGHT paragraph when he asks,
“Is God going to split the ‘one new man in Christ’ he created in half, and subject half to the (supposed) ‘wrath of God’ during the tribulation; but take the other half off to a wedding feast that only half the Bride is in attendance of?”
Anti-dispensationalists always make the same mistake in their assessment of God’s dealing with Jews and Gentiles. In God’s economy of grace, they say, there is no difference in his dealing with Jews and Gentiles and to prove it they usually refer you to Galatians 3 and Ephesians 2.
But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:23-29).
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: (Ephesians 2:11-16).
If, as Paul asserts, there are no more Jew nor Greek in Christ, how should we interpret Revelation 7:4-8? There we see John, having been inspired in a direct revelation by Jesus Christ to write down what he heard, affirming in no uncertain terms that 12000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel are sealed by God during the seven-year tribulation –
- 12000 from the tribe of Juda.
- 12000 from the tribe of Reuben.
- 12000 from the tribe of Gad.
- 12000 from the tribe of Aser.
- 12000 from the tribe of Nephtalim.
- 12000 from the tribe of Manasses.
- 12000 from the tribe of Simeon.
- 12000 from the tribe of Levi.
- 12000 from the tribe of Issachar.
- 12000 from the tribe of Zabulon.
- 12000 from the tribe of Joseph.
- 12000 from the tribe of Benjamin.
Wow! These are all the tribes who inherited their allotted portion of land in Canaan in the time of Joshua when he conquered Canaan in the Name of Elohim. Joshua prefigures Jesus as conqueror who will in the end-time return to earth to subdue and conquer Antichrist’s armies and all the nations at his Second Advent and re-establish the 12 tribes in their allotted portions of land in Israel.
The 144000 together with the rest of the remnant of Israel who are going to be saved during the seventieth week of Daniel are corporeally the wife of God the Father whom He divorced because of their idolatrous harlotry (Jeremiah 3:1, 8 and 14), and in supplications and repentance will return to Him.
She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now.’ (Hosea 2:7) [emphasis added].
Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah-not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jeremiah 31:31-33) [emphasis added]
The church cannot possibly be on earth during the seven-year tribulation. If she had been here, Paul’s description of there not being Jew or Gentile but one man in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:23-29; Ephesians 2:11-16), would have completely annulled God’s promises to the remnant from the nation of Israel (God the Father’s wife).
If there had been such a thing as a Post-tribulation Rapture, the one man in Christ would have been raptured at the Second Advent of Christ and immediately return to the earth. Again, no one, not even a remnant, would be left on earth to whom God could make true his covenantal promises.
Moreover, the fact that God is again going to deal with his promiscuous wife to woo her back to her Husband on a national scale, is the only way He will be able to send out 144000 sealed Jewish believers from the remnant to evangelize the world. This too proves that the church must be absent during the seventieth week of Daniel, for it won’t be the one man in Christ Jesus (Body of Christ; Church) He will be using as special representatives of the Gospel of God to the nations, but the 144000 sealed Jews from every tribe of Israel.
God’s Covenants with the Jews
Dispensational theology is firmly entrenched in God’s covenants. Whosoever denies it is either willfully or inadvertently blind to the fact that there is an observable progression in God’s plan of salvation. Please note, I did not say in the manner of salvation but in the progression of salvation with regards to Jews and Gentiles. The one thing that illustrates it is the fact that salvation in this dispensation of more than 2000 years of grace, is a purely spiritual deliverance from sin and the translation from the power or kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of his Son (Colossians 1:12-14).
The next phase in the progression of salvation relates to the physical deliverance of the living Jews and Gentiles who will have survived the Great Tribulation, their entrance into the Millennial Kingdom of Christ on earth, and concurrently to the deliverance of creation from the curse of decay and death (Romans 8:19). They are those who will have been deprived of the Pre-tribulation Rapture’s hope of being delivered from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonian 5:9; Revelation 3:10) because of their unbelief but are saved during the tribulation for their refusal to take the mark of the beast. Here, Paul Benson wrongfully says:
Dispensationalism teaches the age of grace comes to an end at the ‘rapture’ before the start of the great tribulation; and the tribulation Saints are saved by showing their faith through their martyrdom. BUT this concept of self-redemption is more in line with Islamic doctrine than the doctrine of the Bible! Jesus clearly taught he is the Door, and the only door, into the Kingdom of God.
What he willfully overlooks is the fact that the tribulation saints are going to wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7: 13-14). His association of the blood of the Lamb with Islamic doctrine is mindboggling. One can only shrink in fear from the consequences it beholds him because it borders on sheer blasphemy. Has Paul Benson no fear of God? Surely, he must know that the “washing of robes in the blood of Christ” is a metaphor for biblical salvation. Let him turn to Zechariah 3:1-5 to learn that the metaphor of changed raiment (robes) was used for salvation even in the Old Testament. By the way, the high priest Joshua’s plucking out of the fire is a prophetic foreshadowing of believing Israel’s plucking out of the fires of the Great Tribulation and ultimately the Lake of Fire. It is not, as Paul Benson rebelliously asserts, “more in line with Islamic doctrine” (Remember Isaiah 5:20?). Shame on you, Benson. You desperately need to repent of your evil. While we wait, hope and pray for Benson to repent, let us now turn to the wonderful covenants God made with Israel.
To begin with, it is imperative to familiarize ourselves with the importance of the four covenants God made with Israel. No-one can correctly understand end-time events without giving God’s covenants with Israel the position of priority they deserve. Paul Benson never once mentions any of these covenants in his book. Yes, admittedly, he mentions the New Covenant twice (pages 26 and 51) but with a purely Calvinistic slant to it when he erroneously views election in the light of predestined redemption. It leads to all kinds of off the track conclusions, as we shall see from his book. With reference to Romans 11:2-6, he writes,
Here Paul introduces this concept of an elect remnant of Israel, and firmly states this election is not by lineage, but BY GRACE! And this is very important to grasp; as much teaching upon election puts forth the notion that Israel attains their inheritance simply because they are in the bloodline of those to whom God made the promises. But that is a falsehood, and denies what is clearly taught in this chapter.
SIDE NOTE: I have never been able to get adispensationalist / pre-trib teacher to sit down and have a honest look at, and discussion of, Romans 11. They will jump right to the end of the chapter, twist a couple of verses on calling, and then speed off to a discussion of their beliefs based upon Historical Grammatical interpretation of certain O.T. texts. It is almost like they are frightened of this part of the Bible!
Dispensationalists must turn a blind eye to almost the entire 11th chapter of Romans, as well as a great deal of the other writings of the Apostles, as they are completely contrary to their teachings. And the part they will quote from chapter 11 (v.25-26), they twist the meaning around to where Scripture which actually rebukes their theory now sounds like it promotes it. But they will never accept the message of the whole chapter for what is says. Their erroneous theory forces them to engage in selective vision and willful ignorance.)
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded 8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. Romans 11:7-8 Notice in this passage national Israel and election (contrary to the teachings of many) are NOT presented as being synonymous!
The election attained something national Israel did not! National Israel in rejecting Christ was placed in a slumber which caused them to be cut off from election (except for that believing remnant). When you understand this the rest of the true New Covenant concept of election begins to make sense.
Now Paul brings in the illustration of the Olive tree; and also begins a rebuke of those who totally reject Israel as a part of God’s future plan; He compares the unbelieving majority of national Israel to branches who were broken off the natural Olive tree (election) by their unbelief (rejecting of Christ); and the Gentile believers as branches of a ‘wild’ Olive tree which were grafted into the natural Olive tree (election) through faith in Christ. This merger of the Church being added into the ranks of God’s elect remnant by faith in Christ is at the heart of the true biblical understanding of election.
Paul Benson’s disregard for the hermeneutical requirement to research and explain Scripture with Scripture has hardened the layers of rust on his bottomless bucket, so much so that it has become impossible to get trough to him. Election in God’s economy of sovereign choice is not based on a “choose-some-and-reject-some” paradigm for redemption and eternal life. If that had been true, we would have been obliged to remove every single verse and passage in Scripture affirming that “whosoever believes, shall be saved,” especially the most well-known verse in Scripture, John 3:16.
“The election,” to which Paul refers in Romans 11, is purely God’s exclusive election of Israel as a nation and not the predestined election of an elect few or the predestined damnation of the rest. It simply means that Israel as a nation is the only nation on earth whom God chose to be a holy and separated people unto Himself with a single purpose in view and that was to bring his anointed Messiah into the world. No other nation was chosen by God in this way.
It cannot possibly be interpreted otherwise, because the prophet Isaiah says with unyielding conviction that Jacob is God’s servant and Israel as a nation his elect. (Isaiah 45:4). It is head-on Paul Benson’s misunderstanding of the true meaning of election that causes him to misconstrue the meaning of the Olive Tree, which, in his estimate, is God’s sphere of electoral redemption.
Paul Benson’s interpretation of the Olive Tree suggests that a saint can lose his salvation, be grafted in again if he repents and lose it again if he falls from grace through unbelief. If “the election,” as Paul calls it, is not a predestined election unto salvation and/or damnation, what is it? Well, Paul provided the answer when he wrote:
Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. (Ephesian 2:11-13).
I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. (Romans 9:1-5).
The Amplified Bible says it thus:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For [if it were possible] I would wish that I myself were accursed, [separated, banished] from Christ for the sake [of the salvation] of my brothers, my natural kinsmen, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, the glory ([a]Shekinah), the [special] covenants [with Abraham, Moses, and David], the giving of the Law, the [system of temple] worship, and the [original] promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to His natural descent, came the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), He who is exalted and supreme over all, God blessed forever. Amen
“The election” is the sphere of blessing, the Olive Tree if you will of which the fatness was the commonwealth of Israel to whom belonged the adoption as sons of God, the Shekinah glory, the covenants with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the giving of the law, the system of temple worship and the magnanimous honor to have Jesus Christ, their Messiah and Saviour, as their brother after the flesh. It does not mean that everyone who lived within this sphere of blessing (the Olive Tree) were already saved because they were participants in the fatness of the Olive Tree.
It means that the sphere of the Olive Tree and it fatness made it so much easier for them to come to a saving faith. For instance, the law was given to them as a schoolmaster, as Paul explained in Galatians 3:24. Unfortunately the keeping of the Law became to them the means to gain salvation and as a result many Jews were cut off from the Olive Tree, alienating them from the blessings and the fatness of the Olive Tree, provided they come to a saving faith and granted the privilege, through faith, to be grafted in again.
The Gentiles have always been without Christ, without hope and the non-participant aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, as well as the fatness of the Olive Tree, until God in his unfathomable mercies and grace sovereignly decided to graft in the entire Gentile population into the Olive Tree, so that they too may gain salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. Those who do not take advantage of God’s mercies and his bringing them nigh by the blood of Christ, will eventually be cut off, just like the unbelieving Jews.
The term “made nigh by the blood of Christ” does not communicate salvation proper; it simply means that the Gentiles’ who had previously been far off are now given a position of readiness or preparedness for salvation. The word for “nigh” is eng-goos’ and means to be made ready or to bring near to the goal for which the object or person is being prepared.
Having established what “the election” is and what it involves, we can now understand the true meaning of Romans 11:7-10.
What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. (Romans 11:7-10).
Throughout Israel’s history there were Jews in the Olive Tree (please note: in the Olive Tree) who believed they could attain righteousness with God through their keeping of the Law. No wonder the Bible warns “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Consider carefully the following:
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. (Romans 9:30-33).
That is why most Jews, whenever they wandered off into the most horrendous idolatress ways, continued to worship in the temple and rigidly kept God’s Law, thinking that it would save them from his wrath. Consider the following:
The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying, Stand in the gate of the LORD’S house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the LORD, all ye of Judah, that enter in at these gates to worship the LORD. Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, The temple of the LORD, are these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your doings; if ye throughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; If ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other gods to your hurt: Then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers, for ever and ever. Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. (Jeremiah 7:1-8).
They believed that whilst the temple of the Lord stood in their midst, God’s shekinah presence would never depart from them. Even Jesus’ own disciples were under the impression that Solomon’s temple was the token of God’s presence (Matthew 24:1-2). Bear in mind that the Law and the system of temple worship were two elements of worship that forms an indispensable part of the fatness of the Olive Tree, which the Gentiles had always been deprived of, causing them to be without Christ and hope in this world.
However, most Jews applied the fatness of the Olive Tree (these elements of worship) as an end to itself and willfully failed to see that God had given it to them as the means to bring them nigh to Christ (Galatians 3:24-25). Despite God’s endless pleadings and long-suffering to return to Him, they defiantly clung to their sin of self-righteousness until their religious leaders and the majority of the nation of Israel outspokenly rejected their Messiah and King, Jesus Christ, and God’s final lo-ammi judgment fell upon them. This happened in 70 AD when the Romans under General Titus, the son of Vespasian who succeeded Nero as Emperor in 68 AD, utterly destroyed their temple and they were dispersed throughout the ends of the world.
Every feature of the fatness within the confines of the Olive Tree (the law, the Temple, the covenants etc.) were all given to the Jews to bring them to Christ. Every single element points to Jesus Christ and his salvation (Matthew 12:6, 8). Sadly, these rudiments of the Olive Tree were the very things that incensed the Jewish religious leaders to kill Him. (Matthew 12:1-14).
The following few verses from 15-21 echo what Paul states in Romans 11:11, “I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Praise be to God, there were Jews, although they were a small minority, who through faith and faith alone in their coming Messiah, obeyed and applied the fatness of the Olive Tree in the way God intended it to be used. A man by the name of Simeon who is mentioned only once in the New Testament, and Anna the prophetess are very good examples.
And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons. And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
Anna was of the tribe of Aser which shows that she did not lose her unique Jewishness to become one man in Christ with the rest of the believing Jews. We shall see, in a follow-up section of this series, how Paul Benson twists Scriptures and the meaning of words such as “tribes” to accommodate his lies about the Pre-tribulation Rapture. Of particular importance for our topic, is the phrase “waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” The fatness of the Olive Tree could only benefit those Jews who yearningly waited for their consolation, Jesus Christ. Only they remained in the Olive Tree; the rest were cut off until such time when they too will be grafted in again, only if they receive Him by faith and faith alone. The Olive Tree has nothing in common with election the way Paul Benson describes it in his book. As I said, it reeks of Calvinism.
It is of the utmost importance to note that the Spirit of God came upon Simeon as He did in the Old Testament on believers. The Spirit of God was not in Simeon but upon him. Does that mean that he forfeited salvation because the Spirit of God was not in him, and therefore cannot be seen as part of the one man in Christ Jesus? Perish the thought. It proves that he remained a Jew who was saved by faith and faith alone in the consolation of Israel, despite him not being a part of the one man in Christ Jesus.
What was it that inspired Jews like Simeon and Anna to wait for the consolation of Israel? The answer is very simple; they completely trusted God to fulfill all his promises (unconditional covenants) to Israel. There are four non-abrogated covenants God made with Israel.
- Abrahamic Covenant.
- Davidic Covenant.
- Palestinian Covenant
- New Covenant.
God made two kinds of covenants with Israel: conditional and unconditional. An “if” was attached to the conditional covenant which means that the covenanter could only fulfill his obligation if the benefactor or receiver of that promise obediently ceded to it’s conditions. No “ifs” are attached to God’s unconditional covenants with Israel. All God’s covenants with Israel are unconditional except the Mosaic. The unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant is ratified by its eternality, for God alone can make things eternal (Genesis 17:7, 13, 19; 1 Chronicles 16:17; Psalm 105:10). The Palestinian Covenant is also called an everlasting covenant (Ezekiel 16:60). And so too is the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:13; 16, 19; 1 Chronicles 7:12; 22:10; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 37:25). Likewise, the New Covenant with Israel is eternal (Isaiah 61:8;
To impress on Abraham (the Chaldean) the solemnity of the unconditional and eternal nature of the covenants, He condescended to follow a custom of the Chaldeans. The body parts of slain animals were laid opposite each other so that the persons making the covenant may pass through them. However, God made one exception. Instead of both God and Abraham passing thrrough the pieces, God put Abraham to sleep and passed through alone, indicating that He and He alone would be the sole Benefactor of the covenants, and that man would have no part in fulfilling the covenants whatsoever. (Genesis 15:17).
These are the general tenets of the four covenants:
- The promise of a national land with Israel having the title deed (Genesis 12:1; 13:14-15, 17)
- The promise of redemption, national (Israel) and universal (Gentiles) (Genesis 12:3; 22:18′ Galatians 3:16).
- The promise of numerous descendants to form a great nation (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 17:2-6).
It gives Israel the unreserved assurance of their final, permanent (eternal) restoration to the land (Deuteronomy 30:3-5; Ezekiel 20:33-37; 42-44).
It relates to promises of dynasty, nation, and throne (2 Samuel 7:11, 13, 16; Jeremiah 33:20, 21; 31:35-37; Luke 1:32).
It has particularly to do with Israel’s spiritual blessing and redemption (Jeremiah 31:31-40; Hebrews 8:6-13).
It is abundantly clear from Scripture that national Israel must of necessity still be intact, albeit a small remnant from each of the twelve tribes, when Jesus Christ returns to the earth at his Second Coming so that God may fulfill all his unconditional covenants with them. Anything less would make God a liar and a cheat who took Abraham for a ride when He put him to sleep and passed through the pieces of the slain animals alone. This is precisely what Paul Benson suggests in his book, “The Pre-trib Rapture: A Bucket Full of Holes” when he writes:
When we leave behind the prideful high-minded theories of man, and prayerfully seek for a Spirit-led interpretation of the Scriptures (which involves different forms of interpretation applied at the proper time and in a proper manner) we arrive at a third theory on election: Remnant Theology! The elect of God who will inherit his promises are a remnant of called out and chosen ones. This remnant is comprised of both a segment of Israel (messianic Jews) as well as the Gentile believers in Christ joined to form what the Bible calls ‘one new man in Christ’ (Ephesians 2:11-19). (Page 24).
FOOD 4 THOUGHT: Is God going to split the ‘one new man in Christ’ he created in half, and subject half to the (supposed) ‘wrath of God’ during the tribulation; but take the other half off to a wedding feast that only half the Bride is in attendance of? This is the kind of unreasonable conclusions Dispensational theology presents. When confronted with the Biblical truth of election the pre-trib theory becomes quite nonsensical. Many other aspects of this folly could be highlighted but I think you get the point. (Page 30).
If “the one new man in Christ” where “There is neither Jew nor Greek” were to be continued as a spiritual principle of redemption during the seven-year tribulation, there would have been no Jews to whom God could fulfill his unconditional promises to Abraham and his physical descendants. They would all have been one man in Christ. The following passage rebukes Paul Benson with cost.
The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God. In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem. The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah. In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn. In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart. (Zechariah 12:1-14).
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light. And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts. (Zechariah 14:1-21).
And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. (Revelation 22:6-7).
Yes Lord Jesus, come quickly to fulfill all your covenants you made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel). AMEN!