Book Review of O. Palmer Robertson’s “The Israel of God”

Any reader of the Bible knows that ‘Israel’ is a central theme in the unfolding of God’s revelation.  Both the land of Israel (i.e. the Promised Land) and the people of Israel (i.e. the ethnic descendants of Abraham) play key roles in God’s unfolding purposes of redemption.  What this role is, however, is a point of much debate and confusion in the church.  In his excellent work, “The Israel of God (P & R Publishing, 2000),” Old Testament scholar O. Palmer Robertson helpfully and clearly sets forth the theological significance of Israel.  Readers familiar with Robertson’s other works (e.g. “Christ of the Covenant,” and “Christ of Prophets”) should expect the same quality of work.  And they will not be disappointed.  In the Introduction, Dr. Robertson states the purpose of the book, “This study will consider the Israel of God in terms of its land, its people, its worship, its lifestyle, and its future” (p. 2).  And this statement serves as the outline for the book.  Robertson devotes one chapter to the land, people, worship, lifestyle, and future of Israel.  He closes the book with (1) an excellent exposition of Romans 11 and (2) 12 concluding propositions.  In just under 200 pages of rich, detailed Biblical study, the case for the classic Covenantal understanding of Israel is fleshed out.  To put it simply, the church is the fulfillment of Israel.  Or in the words of the title (and Gal 6:16), the church is the Israel of God.  If the Bible student grasps this fundamental reality, he or she has gone a long way in understanding the Bible.  To close, I would highly recommend a close and prayerful reading of this excellent book.  Read it with a pen in hand and with your Bible nearby.  Tolle Lege.