You are hereIsrael Between AD 30 and 70
Israel Between AD 30 and 70
Amillennialism teaches that Israel was cut off at the Cross, i.e., God’s covenant with Old Israel ended in AD 30. So, the argument goes, the events of Matthew 24 were more important to first-century Jews than Christians then or since. This means physical Israel, the city of Jerusalem, the Temple, the Law, etc. were replaced at the Cross or the Resurrection or Pentecost. (While Amils might want to argue over which is the day, a difference of less than two months is not the issue.) This “cut off” date has the advantage of undercutting Dispensationalism with its insistence on a continuing relationship between God and ethnic Israel. But pragmatism cannot be proof of a doctrine. While I sympathize with Amillennialism’s goal—I believed and taught this very doctrine for years—it’s still not correct. I encountered verses that didn’t seem to fit and finally concluded Israel was not “cut off” at the Cross but in AD 70. I offer the following passages in support:
The Covenant is Key
“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear (Hebrews 8:10-13). The Old Covenant hadn’t passed yet (c. AD 68) but soon would. A covenant doesn’t outlast its parties and the Old Covenant’s parties were God and … Old Israel. That means God wasn’t through with Israel at the Cross but at the Judgment. This should be sufficient to demonstrate that physical Israel wasn’t “cut off” in AD 30. While it is not a good idea to hang a doctrine on one verse alone (especially if others contradict), this Scripture does provide the framework for fitting the rest. If they fit, the scheme is probably good.
“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joining together and is growing to become a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:18-21). The New Temple was not finished at the Cross (or Pentecost) but was being built in the church’s early days. It succeeded Judaism’s Temple when it was destroyed in AD 70.
“The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing” (Hebrews 9:8, NASB). Most translations get the tense wrong (wonder why) but New American Standard Bible, noted for literalness, has it right. The way into the Most Holy wasn’t created at the Cross, Matthew 27:51 not withstanding. While the Temple stood, access to God wasn’t complete.
“The Law is only a shadow of the good things that are almost here—not the realities themselves” (Hebrews 10:1a). Again, the Jewish Law was still in effect—it just didn’t apply to those who had died to it.
Jerusalem and the Land
“For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is soon to be here” (Hebrews 13:14). Old Jerusalem was covenantally God’s dwelling place until judgment was executed.
“At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth [or Land] but also the heavens.’ The words ‘once more’ indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our ‘God is a consuming fire’” (Hebrews 12:26-29). The Old “Heavens and Earth” of Judaism hadn’t passed away yet. Early Christians were in the process of receiving the Kingdom.
“Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Doesn’t say Jesus was the guarantee but still was guarantying the New Covenant in agreement with Hebrews 8:10-13.
“For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:3-5). Again, note Paul’s tenses. Jusaism’s position and possessions were a present reality in Paul’s time—between AD 30 and 70.
“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs” (Romans 15:8). Again, present tenses, incomplete action.
Matthew 21:33-46 In the Parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers, notice that the “tenants” are legally such until “the owner comes.” “Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants?” “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end,” they replied, “and he will rent the vineyard to other tenants, who will give him his share of the crop at harvest time.” At His coming, He would put them to a wretched death (v.40-41). The chief priests and Pharisees knew He was talking about them (v.45). “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit” (v. 43). They were God’s Landholders/Kingdom citizens until AD 70 when the Land/Kingdom was taken away from them. Why tell this parable unless AD 70 was the time when tenancy changed hands? (Note: the destruction of Old Israel is said to be the time of the Lord’s Coming!)
Matthew 22:1-14 In the Parable of the Son’s Marriage Feast, those originally invited didn’t come and “the king was angry and He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city” (v. 7). Then He invited foreigners in. The time is undeniably AD 70 and the City is Jerusalem, removed from its position as God’s City. It’s a Marriage Feast, the time for the old wife to be replaced by the Bride of Christ. This corresponds to Revelation’s destruction of Babylon.
Wife and Bride
The destruction of Old Jerusalem, naturally enough, is followed by the descent of the New Jerusalem—Revelation 18 and 21. This is probably as good a place as any to mention that I always taught the Marriage of the Church to Christ took place on Pentecost and was surprised to learn Amillennialists did not but held it out as something to look forward to. This was inconsistent to me and should have been a wakeup call. (Christ did not divorce His adulterous wife to “bach” it for two thousand plus years.) Then I noticed Amils also postponed the New Jerusalem. So we’ve had no place to live all this time either!
“I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Corinthians 11:2). Paul’s intention proves the Church didn’t become Christ’s wife at Pentecost. Why? Because Israel was still the Wife (Jeremiah 31:32).
In Revelation 19:1-3 the adulterous wife is divorced/killed and replaced by the “Bride of Christ (19:7). The “food” for the wedding celebration is provided by the Battle, placing the wedding at the same time.
It is instructive that Christ’s Apostles (if not our Lord Himself) participated in the Jewish sacrificial system.
Finally, eminent scholar NT Wright has an illuminating comment on Romans 10:6-8. He says Deuteronomy is quoted because “Israel is still suffering the curses of Deuteronomy 29, separated from God and ruled over by foreign nations. Second, God has now provided the way for Israel to return, to be transformed, to be saved. Third, this way consists of God giving to Israel a fresh gift of grace …. Fourth, those who embrace this new way will be marked out in the present as the people whom God will save, vindicate, and declare to be his people in the [near] future” Whether he means to or not, NT Wright is saying Old Israel is still Israel When Paul pens Romans.
I should add that Amillennialists may cut off Israel at the Cross but generally teach a future conversion of their descendants, i.e., the Jews. While some scriptures are quoted, I suspect some sentimentality is creeping in here. But adding this “exception” brings Amillennialists closer to Dispensationalists than they realize. Both say Old Covenant Israel is dropped from God’s plans—for the time being. Of course, Dispensationalism imagines far more than simple conversion in the future but the parallel is there.
I conclude that terminating Old Israel’s relationship with the God of the Covenant in AD 70 is alone consistent with the New Testament’s teachings. And while I didn’t bring it up, the end of the Age at Jerusalem’s destruction should mean the end of everything associated with it. I welcome comments—and more verses!