Robertson: The Promises of Redemption

“The promises of redemption have never been offered to people without a true faith in the Messiah sent by God. In the past, those who did not exercise proper faith were driven out of the land and regarded as “not [God’s] people.” On the other hand, any person who exercises true faith in the Messiah sent by God has been declared to be heir of all God’s promises.

Recognizing the validity of a claim to the redemptive “land-promise” (however that promise may be understood) by a group of people who are identified in some way other than by faith in Jesus as the Christ inevitably involves a return to the shadowy realm of the old covenant provisions of redemption. Acceptance of this kind of claim would mean regression to the older typological forms of God’s redemptive work. The recognition of a distinctive people who are the recipients of God’s redemptive blessings and yet who have a separate existence apart from the church of Jesus Christ creates insuperable theological problems.

Jesus Christ has only one body and only one
bride, one people that he claims as his own, which is the true Israel of God. This one people is made up of Jews and Gentiles who believe that Jesus is the promised Messiah.”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 49.

Robertson: No Racial Discrimination in God’s Kingdom

“Abraham did not become the father of some kind of super race, and it would be monstrous to suggest otherwise. Just as the calling of a person to be a Christian does not set him apart racially from other human beings, so the calling of Abraham did not make him an essentially different kind of being from what he was before he was called. Yet it must be recognized that it was Abraham who was called and no other. To him were given the promises of a land, a seed, and a blessing. To him alone were the promises of redemption originally spoken.

From the beginning, any Gentile could become a full-fledged Jew. Yet Abraham’s descendants began their life with an identity among God’s people. When God first instituted the covenant sign that designated Abraham as his chosen vessel for communicating blessings to the nations, he specifically indicated that any Gentile could become a full-fledged Jew by professing the God of Abraham and being circumcised. No racial barrier existed to keep Gentiles from becoming full participants in the covenant promises.”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 30.

Robertson: Jerusalem and Faith

“It must not be assumed that those who live in Jerusalem today without faith in Jesus have been chosen by God for salvation. Apart from repentance and faith, the inhabitants of Jerusalem continue to be in bondage and are ‘without hope and without God in the world’ (Eph. 2:12). To suggest anything else is to slight Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, while at the same time imperiling the souls of many by encouraging false presumption.

But there is another Jerusalem, a Jerusalem that is above, from which the enthroned Son of God sends forth his Spirit. Apart from this Jerusalem, none of us would have a mother to bring us into the realm of God’s redemptive work, for she is the mother of us all” (Gal. 4:26). Only those who have been born from above by the outpouring of the Spirit from the throne of Christ, situated in the heavenly Jerusalem, can claim to be citizens in the kingdom of God.”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 30.

Robertson: The Promised Land of Canaan

“[The] land belongs to the Lord of the covenant. According to the legislation in Leviticus, the land was not to be sold, since, as the Covenant Lord declared, ‘The land is mine, and you are strangers and my tenants’ (Lev. 25:23)….

The land was God’s gift to [the assembled congregation of God’s people]. Clearly, not to the wicked and unbelieving from among Israel, but only to the righteous and faithful was the assurance given that the land of redemption would be theirs.

This principle is very important as it relates to the current situation of the land. Never can the promise of the land be properly claimed by those who fail to exercise true faith and faithfulness in the Redeemer provided by the Lord of the Covenant….

Now it is quite appropriate to speak of the certainty that the conditions of the covenant would be fulfilled, so that the intended blessings would come. But the covenants of God still had conditions. Recognizing this fact, the student of Scripture must look forward to One who would fulfill the conditions of the covenant perfectly on behalf of his people.

But this perspective will lead in a totally different direction than the idea that the land belongs to [ethnic] Israel in perpetuity, no matter how faithless she may be.”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 8, 19, 20.

Robertson: Types

“John declares that God now “tabernacles” with his people in a way that far surpasses his dwelling with Israel in the days of their wilderness wandering (John 1:14), that the angels of God now ascend and descend on the Son of Man rather than on Jacob’s visionary ladder (John 1:51), that the lifting up of the Son of God supersedes the lifting up of the serpent in the wilderness (John 3:14), and that the manna from heaven given by Moses has been transformed into “living bread” given by Christ (John 6:49-51).

Paul speaks of the religious festivals of the old covenant as “a shadow of the things that were to come” (Col.2:17), and the events of Israel’s redemptive history as “types” for believers during the new covenant age (1 Cor.10:6). All these authors of new covenant documents develop a significant aspect of their theology by contrasting old covenant shadows with new covenant realities.

It is particularly in the epistle to the Hebrews that this contrast between anticipation and realization, between shadow and reality, finds its fullest and most distinctive expression. According to the writer to the Hebrews, the administration of redemption under the law of the old Covenant was “only a shadow” of the good things that were
coming (Heb. 10:1). These shadowy images of redemptive reality did not originate merely in the context of old covenant experiences. Instead, these prophetic shadows originated in the abiding realities of heaven itself.

Because Melchizedek the priest-king was made “like” the Son of God in his eternal relationship to the Father, he could anticipate the priestly role of Jesus (Heb. 7:1,3). Similarly, only because the tabernacle in the wilderness was constructed precisely “according to the pattern” shown to Moses on the mount, could its pattern of worship provide insight into the realities of a proper approach to God under the provisions of the new covenant (Heb.8:5).”

-O. Palmer Robertson, The Israel of God: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, 5.