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Some thoughts on supercession

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The whole correspondence is found here

Dear [Jewish friend],

This is not the place and I have not the time to engage in detailed discussion here. However I will make a few comments by way of reply to your challenges: in many cases, I flatly disagree. However I do also emphatically affirm that the central role of the Levitical priests was to bear the iniquity of others (Lev.10.17). The great problem is that as sinners themselves, they cannot fulfil the task satisfactorily, (Lev.10.19,20).

The New Covenant is the substance of what was prophesied in Deut. 29.1 (curiously 28.69 in Heb, despite the construction), namely another covenant besides Horeb, and unlike it rooted in the one made with the fathers (Deut.5.2-3), one which brings circumcision of heart (Deut.30.6 - a vital question you have avoided). This necessitated a change in the priesthood, since in many respects the Levitical mediation of the Law, failed even before it started (just to give 3 of many examples: Aaron was God's 'second choice', broke all 10 commandments before the written transcription was received and thoroughly merited death even before he was inaugurated). The Levitical covenant has failed, Mal.2.8-9, as Jacob prophesied it would, Gen.49.5-6, though in violently attempting to safeguard it, the builders have unwittingly established its better substance, as Jacob also foresaw, v.8 (Joseph's apparently unlawful vision of the family worshipping a member is turned to Judah). This does not mean that Levites may no longer serve as priests, to the contary, on the strength of the New Covenant they will everlastingly - it establishes what the pattern at Sinai could not, to which Jeremiah's promise and the Torah allude, and indeed the Gentiles themselves will also serve as Levites and priests (which Isa 66.21-22 actually refers to, despite your interpolation, hence Isaiah says the Gentiles will bring a strange offering (minchah) to the Lord - your brethren! - so Malachi 1.11 speaks of Gentiles offering up incense, for which Nadab, Abihu and Uzziah/Azariah were severely punished for disobeying the ordinances. Mal.3.1-3 also indicates the restoration of the Levites acceptability is contingent on refining by the Messenger of the Covenant - the new one. A number of other passages indicate acceptable Gentile offerings on a basis outside of Levi - and this was not such a surprise - there were non-Levitical priests before Sinai and after - is not Samuel the Ephraimite also counted a priest, Ps 99.6 and perform priestly functions by virtue of his adoption, 1 Sam 16.2? Though Phinehas was a son of Aaron, his everlasting priesthood is predicated on a propitiation in blood that was decidedly not part of the Levitical ordinances, Num. 25.13. Torah, with all its Mitzvot, is and will be our exceedingly great eternal delight and God's law reflects His nature - but there have been major changes in His manifestation of that eternal purpose before - the Temple itself is testimony to this! (2 Sam.7.5-7). Beloved David, the man of blood, father of Messiah, had to die before the Temple could be constructed, in accordance with the heavenly pattern, 1 Ch 28.12.

The second temple was reinstated, but it was been destroyed after the Third and much more glorious Sanctuary was begun, also in accordance with prophecy. It would be very stange and a little ridiculous if Daniel's comfort and consolation in exile, as he pleaded earnestly for the second temple, was Agrippa's death and its subsequent destruction! The angel brings news of a richer sevenfold fulfillment of the Temple's (v.24b,27a) - which is consummated in the cutting off of Messiah the Prince, not in spite of it! He replaces the flimsy shadow with the glorious substance. The knowledge of Isa 53.11 which justifies sinners, is the priestly knowledge we are considering, expounded in Lamentations, Job and Tehilim 22, 35, 44, 69, 88 (amongst many other) of God's actual forsaking and the weight of His terrible curse and anger for sin - not Messiah's own sin, but ours - if we seek much needed atonement, as Abel did. Very soon many more in Israel will recognise this, perhaps as you rightly point out after the events of Gog and Magog, which I also anticipate shortly. The also prophecied attempts to construct a fourth temple and resurrect a failed covenant, however will only earn God's anger, and an alliance with His chief enemy (the Prince to come) who only despises the Holy Covenant - it will only reiterate and magnify the tragedy that took place in the second temple, after the rejection and crucifixion of Truth. Though Messiah's blood speaks mercy and better things than Abel's, such an act reiterates Cain's offering. The fig tree of the Levitical covenant has now been eternally cursed. Partakers of the blessing of Abraham (Jews first and Gentiles second) will find the root and source of Abraham's blessing in Melchizedek's non Levitical priesthood, both the only and the firstborn Son, Zech.12.10, www.strateias.org/sonship.htm.

If you have a heart to learn these pointers should help direct you, if you harden your heart no amount of persuasive writing will help you. Your stumbling over the distinction between John's denial that he is a literal reappearance of Elijah and Messiah's affirmation that he is his antitype, a distinction even children readily appreciate, and quibbling with Peter's citation of a Jewish translation of Tenach is a troubling sign of hardening your spirit.

Don't miss the richest blessing of all, my friend, the wine of His love and the nourishing matzah of His undeserved grace. Why content yourself with the fading scraps of an unravelling covenant?

Some further thoughts posted on Melanie Philips blog 30/10/2010:

Sorry for a lengthy post, I support Israel, but I also want to be crystal clear and avoid a dangerous conflation of ideas.

Many, many Christian Zionists have believed something very close to what Melanie here describes as a calumny, 'that, because of their denial of the divinity of Christ, the Jews have forfeited God’s promises to them which have been transferred to Christians.'
In some ways this 'calumny' is explicit NT teaching, and that won't go away. The razor sharp distinction between the supercession of anti-Semites like this Roman Bishop or say Stephen Sizer on one hand and the majority of historic Protestant Christian Zionists like Henri Dunant, Spurgeon, Ryle, Bonar, the Puritans etc on the other (though there are exceptions, expecially among modern dispensationalists) is that there is a glorious and solid hope for national Israel in the future as a Jewish state - but we believe that hope lies wholly in the Jewish Messiah - nowhere else. The New Testament is a newly mediated and newly ratified covenant - and the mediation of the Levitical testament has been rendered obsolete for Jews first and by implication for Gentiles too - that is Christian orthodoxy. The distinction between practical haters and lovers of Israel, between highminded antagonists and praying and concerned supporters, lies in how the NT is perceived to relate to the focus of the covenant with Abraham, which was the grant of the land (Gen.15.8+, Ps.105.9-11). Upon this unmediated land promise, the NT confesses itself to be founded (Gal.3.16-7) and by which the Abrahamic, but not the Sinaitic covenant (mediated by flawed mediators, Ex.4.14, Deut.9.20, 34.4) is fully ratified (Heb.6.13-18, Gal.4.24, Heb. 8.7-13).

A Christian Zionism that only looks to Israel as a rejuvenated nation is itself as guilty of a kind of idolatry as secular Zionism.

Christian Zionists don't expect non Messianic Jews either to understand or approve this 'supercessionist' element of our position, but please don't ask us to deny our roots either.

It would be more precise to define supercessionism of the objectionable Israel-hating kind as a belief in the abrogation of the land covenant to Isaac's descendants - even Osama bin Laden perceives that.



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