Mar 22, 2014

3 Models of Israel's Theological Significance

Michael VlachBy Dr. Michael J. Vlach
Theological Studies

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How do you view national Israel's significance in the plan of God? The following are three models of Israel's significance from a Christian perspective.

  1. Replacement Model—The nation Israel no longer has theological significance in God's plans, being permanently replaced as the people of God by the Christian church. Israel is a testimony to what happens to those who reject God.

  2. Transcended Type Model—The nation Israel is a type or shadow of Jesus and the church which are greater antitypes. The nation Israel is not so much replaced as it is superseded by Jesus and the church which fulfill God's true intent for Israel. Once these greater realities comes, there is no need for the type or shadow.

  3. Microcosm for Other Nations Model—The nation Israel is a microcosm or template of the blessings that God will bring to all nations of the earth. Israel, under the ultimate Israelite, Jesus the Messiah, will be saved and restored not just for its own benefit but for the benefit of other nations. So not only is Israel the vehicle for the Messiah, the nation has a future role to play in regard to other nations.

The first two models above do not present the nation Israel as having theological significance in the plan of God. This does not mean that Jews cannot or will not be saved. And some within these models are open to many Jewish people coming to faith in Jesus, but both agree that Israel as a nation will never again have significance in the plan of God.

The third model, the "microcosm" model, holds that the nation Israel does have theological significance. Since God's future plans include nations as national entities (see Isa 19; Zech 14), Israel has a role of leadership and service to these nations. This role will come to fruition as Israel is saved and restored under Jesus the Messiah.

All three models affirm Jesus as the true and ultimate Israelite, but the implications of this truth vary. The first two models see Jesus' relationship to Israel as the end of national Israel's significance. The third model sees Jesus' identity as Israel as the reason why the nation Israel will be restored (see Isa 49:3-6). Jesus as the corporate Head of Israel restores the nation.

I see the microcosm model as the correct option.