Monday, May 28, 2012
What About Esther 8:17?
All Christians agree that God made promises to Abraham and to his descendants. Christians disagree on who exactly are Abraham’s descendants.
Dispensationalists insist that the only true heirs of these promises are the blood descendants of Abraham. While the blessings of these promises extend to the entire world, God must fulfill these promises for ethnic Jews.
Because Dispensationalists define Israel/Jew strictly according to blood, the categories of Israel/Jew are fixed from conception. You either have Jewish blood or you do not.
No one can ever change their genes. Once a Jew, always a Jew.
For Dispensationalists, religion plays no role in determining who is Jewish. An atheist Jew is still a Jew and therefore, an heir of the promises. A Gentile convert to Judaism is not a Jew and therefore, is not an heir of the promises.
The problem with this paradigm is that it does not fit the Scriptures. Even in the Old Testament, Israel was not a fixed entity based strictly upon blood. Israel was ALWAYS subject to grafting and pruning.
From the beginning, unbelievers were pruned out of Israel and lost their inheritance. Ishmael, Esau, Saul, Absalom, and countless others were cut off from the promises because of unbelief.
From the beginning, believing Gentiles were grafted into Israel and became heirs of the promises to Abraham. Rahab and Ruth are the preeminent examples, but entire groups of people were grafted into Israel: Abraham’s household servants and the Egyptians who fled during the Exodus.
Also, as a result of the events of the book of Esther, a large number of Persians became believers and were grafted into Israel. Look at how the Bible describes this in Esther 8:17:
“And in every province and city, wherever the king's command and decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a holiday. Then many of the people of the land became Jews, because fear of the Jews fell upon them.”
These Persians “became Jews.” These Persians were grafted into Israel and became heirs of the promises to Abraham.
When it comes to Esther 8:17, Dispensationalists abandon their “literal” hermeneutic. They cannot accept this text at face value.
If you want a classic example of eisegesis, ask a Dispensationalist to explain Esther 8:17. They will go through tortuous gyrations to avoid the obvious implications of this text, namely, that converted Gentiles were grafted into Israel, even in the Old Covenant.
When Paul penned Galatians 3:29, he was not inventing a new truth. Grafting and pruning are not exclusively New Covenant principles. Paul was explaining a concept that operated in Old Covenant, as illustrated by many Old Testament texts, including Esther 8:17.
So, whenever you find yourself listening to a Dispensationalist wax eloquent about how Gentiles cannot inherit the promises to Abraham, simply ask, "What about Esther 8:17?"