In recent years, there has been a need for a balanced, scholarly, and well-researched response to those who argue that there is no future hope for God’s chosen people. Popular writers such as John Piper, Hank Hanegraaff, and the late R. C. Sproul have influenced a generation toward the belief that God has abrogated His promises to the nation of Israel. The book Future Israel by Barry Horner is exactly the kind of book that will answer these critics.
Future Israel is written for those who are interested in or concerned about God’s purpose for the nation of Israel. Barry Horner writes with a desire of helping serious believers to come to grips with this issue. The author tackles this important subject with humility, grace, and exhaustive research.
Dr. Barry E. Horner is the pastor of Christ’s New Covenant Church, in Sahuarita, Arizona. He has an earned Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) degree from Westminster Theological Seminary in California and a Master of Divinity degree (M. Div.) from Western Conservative Baptist Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He has also compiled several works on the writings of seventeen-century Puritan John Bunyan.
The Purpose of the Book
In his book Future Israel, Barry Horner unfolds God’s continued faithfulness to His covenant people Israel. Moreover, he expounds on the doctrine of the literal future fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises based on the Abrahamic covenant. Horner also identifies the anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism sentiments that have occurred repeatedly in history, usually when replacement theology ruled the thinking of the day.
Rather than break the book down by specific chapter contents, it seems pertinent to divide the book into two areas. The first seven chapters give us an extensive look at the historical development of Replacement Theology or supercessionism. The second section, chapters 8-11, detail Horner’s theological arguments. The book closes with a pastoral plea in chapter 12.
Laying the Foundation
In the first chapter, Horner begins Future Israel by contrasting two theological positions. On one hand, he presents the supercessionist view of Augustine and Calvin, in which the New Testament church spiritually inherits the Old Testament promises given to Israel. Horner identifies Augustine’s position regarding Israel as foundational for replacement theologians in subsequent generations. Calvin and, later Luther who often used hateful terminology influenced their followers toward anti-Semitism and incited hostility towards the Jewish people. On the other hand, Horatius Bonar, Robert Murray M’Cheyne, J. C. Ryle, and C. H. Spurgeon saw a future hope for the Jews and an eventual recovery of both their promised land and their relationship to the Lord. This theological position fostered a love and respect for the Jewish people that produced an authentic passion to see them evangelized.
With these two positions staked out, Horner, in chapters 2-5, expresses his dissatisfaction with the replacement theology position. Horner proceeds to work his way through history, detailing along the way the bad fruit of Augustinian teaching. He ends his historical journey with Hitler and the failings of the German churches, which, for the most part, did nothing to stop the horrific slaughter of the Jews.
Horner, as a careful historian, documents some rather unsavory writings from theologians of the past and present who are hostile to the Jewish people. He cites early church father Chrysostom’s, Eight Homilies Against the Jews, Luther’s last sermon in which he urges all Jews to be expelled from Germany, and Albertus Pieters (1869-1955), professor at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, who proclaimed:
“God willed that after the institution of the New Covenant there should no longer be any Jewish people in the world—yet here they are! That is a fact—a very sad fact, brought about by their wicked rebellion against God.”1
Future Israel contains many historical and modern examples of anti-Judaism. Horner examines the contemporary writings of theologians such as Lorraine Boettner, O. Palmer Robertson, Colin Chapman, Stephen Sizer, Gary Burge, Kim Riddlebarger, and George Eldon Ladd. He also refutes their key arguments, injecting several important objections along the way.
Horner deals effectively with their common precept that the Old Testament land promises were done away with by the coming of Christ, in the same way that the Mosaic Law became obsolete. Horner rightly shows however, that the Mosaic Law had a built-in obsolescence, while the Abrahamic Covenant was an unconditional, eternal covenant repeatedly emphasized throughout the Old Testament. Furthermore, Paul specifically says in Galatians 3:17 that the Law did not revoke the Abrahamic covenant. Thus, while the New Covenant does replace the Old, that replacing does not affect the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant.
The real meat of the book comes in the last several chapters. It is here that Horner deals firstly with the prophecy concerning the land promises in the Old Testament and the “New Testament indications that the land of Israel has retained its validity during the Church age, particularly because the gifts [emphasis added] and calling of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29)” (p. 229). Secondly, he expands on the interpretation of Romans 11 and the implication that Israel has not been ultimately and finally rejected by God. In this section he also explains several passages that opponents sometimes use to support Replacement Theology, namely Galatians 6:16 (“Israel of God”), Ephesians 2:11-22, and 1 Peter 2:9-10 (“you are a chosen race…now you are God’s people”). Thirdly, Horner gives a detailed look at Romans 11:28, where Paul depicts Israel as God’s beloved enemy. The point here—and probably the clincher to Horner’s entire argument—is that unsaved Jews who are currently the enemy of God, are still beloved because of the promises made to their forefathers. Thus, unbelieving Jews in the church age are still objects of God’s covenant love and therefore, should still expect the promises made to their forefathers to be fulfilled. It is in these chapters that Horner is most persuasive.
The reader will find Future Israel to be a very readable, insightful, well-researched, and a biblically based guide that tackles the important questions about Israel’s future, and God’s faithfulness, and a sound approach to interpretation of prophecy. If one desires to study into this subject further, he will find great profit in reading this book. Finally, John MacArthur, the popular author and pastor writes:
“This (Future Israel) is by far the best treatment of Israel’s future I have found. It’s a welcome antidote to the widespread apathy and confusion that have clouded this vital prophetic question. I found it clear, persuasive, thoroughly biblical, and difficult to put down.”2
Horner’s book makes a strong case that we should regard God’s chosen people as a nation that still has a special future in the plan of God. The reviewer fully recommends this excellent book and urges serious-minded Christians to purchase and read this book.
1. Barry Horner, Future Israel, (B & H Publishing Group: Nashville, TN, 2007), p. 37
2. John MacArthur, from back cover
Reviewed by David Dunlap