Question and Answer

Ezek. 37:27 and Lev. 26:12: Israel or us?

Question:

My wife and I have been attending an OPC community church for some time now, and I am somewhat puzzled by the insistence on some points. I was just reading some information on the "Unity of the Church" and came across some biblical text that was used to support a particular doctrinal position (Ezek. 37:27, Lev. 26:12), and I have a question about these verses—are these speaking to us, or to Israel in the historical time they are or will be applied?

I understand fully the doctrine of God's grace (as presented in Ephesians 2:1-10) in offering up His Son Jesus as the ultimate propitiation for sin; however, I am not quite convinced that quoting some scripture necessarily answers the question of unity or lack thereof.

Answer:

Greetings in Christ Jesus our Lord and only Savior.

Your question is always proper. We should always consider the context. However, we should also consider the redemptive-historical context as well. All Scripture is God-breathed and is profitable for doctrine; all Scripture makes us wise unto salvation that is in Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 3:14-17). Jesus said that whatever was written in the Law, the Prophets, and the writings were written concerning Him (Luke 24:44). In Galatians 3:8, Paul said that the gospel was preached to Abraham. The writer of Hebrews talks about the gospel that was preached to the Israelites and to us as the same gospel (Heb. 4:1ff).

The passage you cite as a reference to some doctrine is used by Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:16 to call believers to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. In 2 Corinthians 7:1ff, the apostle takes the covenant idea that the church is the people of God and calls them on that basis to holiness of life.

The central idea of the covenant beginning with Abraham through Christ to glory is this: "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God" (Rev. 21:3).

When you think about context, broaden your horizon to include the redemptive-historic context. Looking at Paul's use of the very same passages you cite will help demonstrate what I mean. Those passages had specific application in time and history to Israel; yet they have specific application to the people of God throughout redemptive history. The specific application may vary, but the truth applies in our context as it did in theirs. That is why the writer of Hebrews and Paul can say that the gospel was preached to Old Testament saints.

A book that might help you work through some of these questions is According to Plan, by Graeme Goldsworthy; Biblical Theology, by Geerhardus Vos is another, though a more technical presentation of the principle. Goldsworthy's book is built on the foundation of Vos.

I pray that this helps answer your question. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.


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