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Bible Q

Can we use the unfulfilled prophecies in the Old Testament as the promises of the church?

Yes and no.

Yes. Some prophecies in the Old Testament have application to the church, including some that also have reference to the nation of Israel.

No. It would not be reasonable for God to make a prophecy that is a clear reference to the nation of Israel being blessed after their repentance and play a “cups and coin” trick with Israel; “Ah, you thought I was talking about Israel. Tricked you!” Nevertheless God’s blessings depend on our behaviour and response. No-one gets a free pass because of the accident of their birth.

A good example of a prophecy that has some features that apply to natural Israel, but not spiritual Israel, and other features that also have application to the church is Jeremiah 30 and 31.

Jeremiah 30:11  For I am with you to save you, declares the LORD; I will make a full end of all the nations among whom I scattered you, but of you I will not make a full end. I will discipline you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

Jeremiah 31:31-37  “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,  (32)  not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.  (33)  But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  (34)  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  (35)  Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD of hosts is his name:  (36)  “If this fixed order departs from before me, declares the LORD, then shall the offspring of Israel cease from being a nation before me forever.”  (37)  Thus says the LORD: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.”

This “new covenant” is executed by Christ, and receives fulfilment in Christ’s church (Hebrews 8, 9). And yet the earlier part of the prophecy (Jer 30:11) must apply to natural Israel.

Romans 11 clearly teaches the principles. God’s promises to Israel are irrevocable. That is Israel has for the most part rejected God’s son, resulting in their rejection by God. But they will once again turn to him and be accepted.

Romans 11:1-2  I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.  (2)  God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. Do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he appeals to God against Israel?

Rom 11:12  Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Scripture is very clear that Israel shall turn again to God, and therefore receive God’s blessing, just as he will bless us when we turn to him.


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