- Pathfinder

Reply To: In the first lecture, Dr. McDermott teaches that the Bible is one story, and that God upholds his covenant with the Jewish people to this very day. Was this what you were taught growing up? If not, how will this insight change the way you read the bible going forward?


I’ve been taught mixed things concerning the Jewish people over the years. In my Black Baptist upbringing there was an affinity with the story of Israel and similarities our own journey of enslavement and emancipation as a people. But not many statements were made on the nature of God’s ongoing relation with Israel. In other Protestant-evangelical and non-denominational circles since then, I have heard the notion of Christians as “the new Israel” and of God forsaking his covenant with the Jewish people or most often, that the covenants previous to Jesus death and resurrection are no longer relevant, with Jesus fulfilling these in his coming…all things that could be considered forms of supersessionism. Often the story of the Bible was presented as Creation, Fall & Redemption through Jesus, with fall and redemption heavily emphasized, but the importance of Israel was not stated other than types and shadows of Jesus, and life as a Christian.

Much emphasis would be put on the new testament in these circles. I also think the notion of understanding Israel’s history as key to understanding Jesus does place more emphasis on the importance of knowing the Old Testament and understanding it to help understand who Jesus is, why he came, why he did what he did different things that he did, even the interactions with various religious leaders, and it is key to understanding the Apostolic Scriptures and the good news that the apostles carried forth after the Ascension of Jesus.

Dr. McDermott’s point that from the beginning, God’s choice of Israel was meant to be eternal and not provisional: both as 1- Not a “first stage that would be superseded by a second stage” and 2- “Not a particular that would be replaced by the eternal” are keys that challenge some paradigms I’ve heard and have been taught at times. A scripture I’ve often heard used in other contexts, Romans 11 does drive home that the calling of the Jews is irrevocable and everlasting.

The notion of Gentiles needing to become attached to the vine of Israel to be saved is a fresh insight. Evangelical Christianity would heavily emphasize that salvation is only through Jesus, but the look at the Messiah’s Jewishness was not seen as very important attaching back to the covenants made with Israel through the Messiah: “Gentiles receive all the blessings of Israel because we are connected by the Jewish Messiah to the olive tree of Israel.”

I also think Dr. McDermott’s note of the promise of the land repeated 1000 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and his statement on “The Jewish people have conditional possession but an unconditional title to the land,” is also very key in understanding God’s continual working and purpose in the Land.

I think all of this is helpful in seeing the Bible as one continual story that the church of the nations get to participate in, joined to Israel through the Jewish Messiah. The thought of God not bringing his blessings directly to each person but through mediation is also challenging with a very Protestant thought process that emphasizes direct access to God through Jesus. I’d say traditions I’ve been a part of emphasize personal relationship so much at times but don’t consider the eternal community in the same way. It again makes me value the indispensable connection we have to Israel as a part of the commonweatlh of Israel, as followers of Jesus partaking in her Messiah, Scriptures she has stewarded, and covenants, though never replacing Israel.