Parashat Vayechi (and He lived) Genesis 47:28-50:26
Haftarah: I Kings 2:1-12
In this week’s Torah reading, one learns that Jacob blesses his sons, i.e. the Children of Israel. What is often times missed concerning these blessings is that they have their fulfillment is the last days. This is not an interpretation upon my part, for the text actually states this,
“And Jacob called to his sons and said, ‘Gather yourselves and I will tell you what will call you in the last days.” Genesis 49:1
First, the word which is used in this verse is most interesting. Although most English translations render the word יקרא as “will befall” or “will happen”, the actual Hebrew word means “will call”. It is clear that the text wants to emphasize that even in the last days there will be a call upon the Children of Israel.
Today, there are a growing number of evangelicals who are embracing a theology which asserts that there is no longer any significance to the Land of Israel or any special call upon the Children of Israel. These individuals like to quote 1 Peter 2:9 which uses some Old Testament terms like, “chosen generation”, “royal priesthood”, “holy nation”, and “a treasured people” which related to Israel. Their motivation is to claim that now Peter applies these terms to the Church and hence the Church replaces Israel.
This is not Peter’s intent at all. It is not a matter of replacing Israel, rather a fulfillment of G-d’s original purpose. Israel was called to be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Naturally, Messiah Yeshua is the key to this and Peter emphasizes this in this chapter. Why do these individuals see a casting out of the natural branches rather than, as Paul writes, a future grafting in of the natural branches (see Romans 11:24)? Paul warns the Gentiles sternly against such a view,
“For I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, in order that you are wise in yourselves, that the partial dullness (insensitivity) to Israel has happened, until which the fullness of the nations should come.” Romans 11:25
It is important to note that the Biblical text has the phrase ἀπὸ μέρους, which I translated “partial”. It literally is “from a part”. This means that it is not a replacing, but a joining together with the remnant of Israel, i.e. the Jewish people. In the next verse Paul states, “And so all of Israel will be saved”. Does this mean that in the end that every Jewish individual will be saved? No, in this context he is defining Israel as Moses did in Genesis chapter 28, where he reveals that Israel “shall be a congregation of peoples”. It was always HaShem’s intent that Gentiles would join together with the Jewish people, and not replace them.
Why is it so important for these theologians to teach a theology that excludes a role for Israel in the end times? Perhaps this is a question that they need to ask themselves.
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