Do not hear any anti-Semitism here. And do not hear me condemning any form of what is called Dispensational theology as heretical. With that, I had an interesting experience preaching at a friend’s church. I was treated extremely well as a guest speaker, convictingly so. I realize how our church needs to be much more intentional to care for guest speakers. And there were tons of evidences of grace at my friend’s church. Clearly God is moving that church in a good direction.
My interesting experience was with one gentleman after the first service. I preached on Deuteronomy 9, showing the congregation the gospel in the OT. Moses has nothing but condemnation for Israel in this chapter, and Moses foreshadows the work of Christ by working on behalf of Israel. It is a glorious chapter highlighting God’s grace and love and patience in the OT, and highlighting His gracious work through a mediator. It is the gospel on display in the OT.
This one gentleman came up to me and said, “pastor thank you for the message,” (and he was genuinely thanking me) “but can I ask you one question? Do you have anything good to say about the Jews?” He then went on to tell me how he prays for the Jews daily, how he was concerned about all that is happening in the Middle East, and how Obama is anti-Semitist. So I thanked him for saying that and I did all I could in the second service to not sound anti-Semitist.
I am still trying to work through what wires some Christians to automatically think that way. But my initial reflections are as follows:
- I really was just preaching the text. So the real question in that chapter was “did God have anything good to say about the Jews?”
- All Christians should not think the OT is mainly about the Jews. The Apostles preached the gospel from the OT (that was their Bible!)
- An ultra-dispensational approach to Scripture can easily lead to an Israeli-centric reading of the Bible. (this is not a reason to reject Dispensationalism, but I was struck by the biggest thing on this brother’s mind throughout a sermon on “justification by faith alone”)
- I still have a long ways to go in preaching. That brother is a sheep who could have benefitted from me thinking about him before the sermon, thinking about how I might be perceived by some, and working to speak to a broader audience.
- Understanding the grace of God in saving Israel out of Egypt and giving them the Promised Land should help all Christians to understand God’s bigger plan of graciously saving all His elect people by grace alone, grace alone, grace alone. There is nothing any of us contribute to salvation but our sin.