Today there are many in the Christian community who have embraced the view that Israel is no longer part of God’s plan. It is thought that because the Jewish people rejected Jesus as their Messiah, God has rejected them and replaced them with the Church (Body of Christ). As a result, all the promises made to Israel are now being fulfilled in the Church and the Jewish people are no longer God’s chosen people. This is generally known as Replacement Theology but different names are often now preferred including; covenant theology, fulfillment theology, messianic fulfillment, or supersessionism.
Essentially “replacement theology” teaches the doctrine that the church has “replaced” Israel as God’s chosen people and by extension, God has no future plans specifically for the people of Israel (the Jews). But is this true? Has the Church replaced Israel?
Many denominational churches in the UK have either condemned the Jewish return to their homeland or at best are silent on this issue and it is rare to find a church in the UK supporting Israel and the Jewish people. There is a spiritual propaganda machine that is intensifying this view not only in the UK but around the world.
But is the Church completely different from Israel with it’s own distinct plan? This issue can be resolved by examining the Scriptures. By understanding the history of Israel and God’s promises throughout the Bible we can determine whether God still has a plan for Israel.
The majority of the early Church had a premillennial view of Bible prophecy but as early as the 3rd century the literal interpretation of the Bible was abandoned for Alexandrian allegory and over time, anyone with a premillennial belief was deemed heretical. Origen was one of the earliest the start the replacement thinking, Augustine then popularised it further with amillennialism. Throughout the centuries people then built upon this belief that the Church was the new Israel.
Replacement theology saturates most of mainstream Christianity in Europe nowadays and especially in the UK. This view is contrary to many clear passages in the Bible and because of this it becomes necessary to “allegorize” or “spiritualize” many passages instead of taking their clear, literal meaning. This in turn has led to many other clear passages being taken non-literally and has paved the way for huge variation in the “interpretation” of the Bible which causes much confusion. Anti-semitic ideas were regularly evident among early church leaders and unfortunately, theology and doctrine further cemented this way of thinking. This continued unabated throughout many centuries. Consider the quotes of Martin Luther, the father of the reformation on this link – Martin Luther Quotes About Jews.
It is quite shocking that such unashamed antisemitism has found its way into the church, given that God Himself described the Jews as “the apple of His eye”! This discrimination by many popular fathers of church doctrine has undoubtedly influenced the theology of a multitude of denominations and cannot be defended with a simple reading of Scripture.
The view has many implications:
- the nation Israel has been replaced by the Church
- the role of Israel with regards to unfulfilled promises has been replaced by and can now be claimed by the Church
- the law has been replaced by grace (Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, not replace it)
- the authority of the OT prophets has been replaced by modern day “prophets”
- the authority of the NT has replaced the authority of the OT
- the church has replaced Israel in receiving any blessings promised in the OT (although any curses are still inherited by Israel!)
Many sentiments and opinions are expressed in modern Christendom that echo the above views. The Bible becomes Christian literature and is no longer Jewish literature. The land of Israel is renamed Palestine, Jews are renamed “occupiers”, the state of Israel becomes illegitimate instead of prophetic and many even label Jesus Christ a Palestinian! The declaration of the state of Israel on 14th May 1948 becomes a catastrophe instead of a miracle and the holocaust is silenced (or denied altogether) where it should be soberly remembered. Worse still, when Israel justifiably defends itself against racial aggression it is accused of the same racial genocide that it was and is a victim of!
How do we approach these two views?
Both “Israel” and the “Church” have different origins and vastly different destinies, while still both being the people of God. It is important to recognise that while we are in the “time of the gentiles” that any Jew who is saved by the recognition of Yeshua(Jesus) as Saviour, is part of the body of Christ. God is a God of promises and He has promised time and again (as will be detailed below) that He will be their (Israel’s) God and they will be His people, in a literal promised land, in a literal time, that he will reign over them on the literal throne of David, from Zion. These promises are as yet unfulfilled.
The Church, by contrast, are co heirs with Christ and will reign with him in Glory. The book of Romans is central to understanding this subject and Paul, in conclusion to his seven chapter long argument, writes:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (Romans 11:25-28)
In this passage, we are told that when the number of believers in Christ reaches its predetermined number, God’s attention will then be focused back on the people of Israel to fulfill many promises concerning them. If God has reneged on his promises to Israel then what is to stop him from reneging on his promises to the Church also? Our very salvation depends on these promises!
The correct approach to Scripture
God has not given us Scripture with the intention of tricking or deceiving us. We should never pretend to understand everything but where we are given names of places, names of people AND time durations altogether, we have no remit to re-interpret the text to mean something else – this is editing God’s Word. We can admit we do not understand it, but we have no license to make the text say something it does not say.
It seems very strange that the modern Church at large often chooses to adopt doctrine and practices that have no or little Biblical support whilst also rejecting promises in prophecy that have abundant and clear Biblical support – especially as all the predictions that have so far been fulfilled have happened with literal precision. There is a clear attack on the authority of Scripture happening in our generation and the worse thing is, it often comes from the Church!
For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19)
These two verses sum up our approach to Scripture. God’s Word means what it says and these two verses provide a solemn warning to anyone to “adds to” or “takes away” from God’s Word. It is debatable as to whether these two verses apply just to Revelation or the whole Bible, but they definitely apply to Revelation! These two verses are probably the most sobering and terrifying in the entire Bible…!
Understanding God’s covenants
There are many “covenants” in the Bible that God makes with His people, but the four detailed below are addressed to Israel specifically. Gaining an understanding of these is vital for the Biblical perspective of God’s dealing with the Jews. Some covenants are unconditional and do not depend on any obedience of Israel – others are conditional and do depend on the behavior of Israel.
The Abrahamic Covenant
This solemn covenant is foundational to understanding the promises regarding the land of Israel:
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-8, emphasis added)
This covenant describes a literal land and is an everlasting covenant – therefore this covenant still applies today as it was unconditional and everlasting! Interestingly, David confirms the nature of this covenant in Psalm 105:8-11. Although the “ownership” of the land was a unconditional, the “use” of the land would depend on their obedience to God as detailed in Deuteronomy 28-30.
The Mosaic Covenant
Deuteronomy 28-30 makes clear that blessings or curses await them depending on their faithfulness to God, but that when scattered, they would be brought back to the land in end times. The whole three chapters goes into great detail and is well worth the read, but the verses below sum the passage up:
And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5)
The words of this covenant seem to be more like a prophecy than a covenant. History has shown this to be perfectly accurate and we are now living in the generation that is seeing the Jewish people regathered after their disobedience which led to their worldwide dispersion in AD 70. There are many other references in the Bible to make this unmistakable.
The Davidic Covenant
This promise concerning Israel is also confirmed to David and is a timeless, unconditional covenant:
Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. (2 Sam 7:10-16, emphasis added)
God will appoint a place where Israel will dwell and “move no more”. This clearly cannot refer to anything that happened in OT times as the Jews were constantly on the move fleeing persecution, most notably in AD 70 when the diaspora occurred. Then there is the prophecy about David’s throne and we are told it will be “established forever” and is NOT conditional on any action of Israel. This has not been fulfilled at present. This will be fulfilled during the millennial reign of Christ (see Luke 1:30-33 and Revelation 20:1-7).
The New Covenant
Understanding this prophetic unconditional covenant is crucial in understanding God’s promises and is unique in that it is reaffirmed in the New Testament. Notice who the covenant is specifically made with:
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. (Jeremiah 31:31-34 emphasis added)
God declared He would make a new covenant with Israel. This would be in addition to the Mosaic Covenant. Just as Israel will be graciously forgiven under the new covenant, so also the gentiles (the Church) receives grace. This new covenant is fulfilled in our Lord Jesus’ death and resurrection. All who call upon His name will be saved. Even so, once again there is reference to a literal place, Jerusalem and this covenant is addressed to a literal people, Israel. This passage is quoted in Hebrews 8:7-10 and we told it was fulfilled in Christ. Although this covenant was made specifically with Israel and Judah we (as gentiles) have been grafted into this covenant but NOT to replace Israel and Judah!
If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah. (Psalm 89:30-37, emphasis added)
We have to ask ourselves whether God breaks covenants or tells lies? The passages above detail solemn covenants that would ONLY be broken if God were an unfaithful God who broke His Word.
Who owns the land of Israel?
It is important to understand who has the right to the land, many disputes rage about whose land it is. Using Scripture, and understanding the covenants, it is straightforward to understand this.
We need to start at the beginning with Abraham, or Abram as he was then known. God appeared to Abram instructing him to go a land that God will show him:
Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abraham was lead to the land of Canaan where God appeared to him:
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: (Genesis 12:7a)
God again confirms the unconditional covenant:
For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever (Genesis 13:15 emphasis added)
God confirms the exact size of the land, much larger than Israel currently has, which we cover in our Why Israel? article:
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: (Genesis 15:18)
The land of Israel was given to the descendants – for an everlasting possession, this is an unconditional covenant:
And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-8 emphasis added
God then made it clear the covenant was given to the descendants of Isaac, not the descendants of Ishmael:
And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. (Genesis 17:19 emphasis added)
Abraham understood this and sent everyone out of the land except for Isaac:
And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country. (Genesis 25:5-6)
Abraham then confirms the blessing through Isaac son Jacob:
And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham. (Genesis 28:3-4)
Which God confirms with Jacob himself:
And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. (Genesis 28:13-15 emphasis added)
God even changed Jacob’s name to Israel:
And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed. (Genesis 32:28)
Even when Israel sinned against God and were exiled it did not change the unconditional covenant as these verses confirm:
If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me; And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity: Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 26:40-45 emphasis added)
In AD 135, the Roman Emperor Hadrian wanted to destroy all Jewish ties to the land. Following the Bar Kokhba defeat, Hadrian barred Jews from Jerusalem and changed Judea’s name to “Syria Palaestina”, the land was known as Palestine from then until 1948. During this time the land was barren and sparsely inhabited, in the 1860s author Mark Twain who traveled through the area described it as “Of all the lands there are for dismal scenery, I think Palestine must be the prince. The hills are barren, they are dull of color, they are unpicturesque in shape. It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land.“. Even throughout this time there was no such thing as “Palestinian people”, it was only after Israel was reestablished that this myth begun.
God owns the whole earth:
The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. (Psalm 24:1)
And, as you have seen, scripture is very clear God, unconditionally, has given it to the Jews:
He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations. Which covenant he made with Abraham, and his oath unto Isaac; And confirmed the same unto Jacob for a law, and to Israel for an everlasting covenant: Saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan, the lot of your inheritance: (Psalm 105:8-11)
The name is Israel, not Palestine
When Ezekiel the prophet spoke of the restoration of Israel in the last days, it is interesting to note that the name “Israel” was used instead of calling it the “land of Canaan” as it was often called in the Old Testament:
Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:11-12, emphasis added)
This is an amazing passage and something that we are witnessing this very day! Even more amazing is the fact that when the Jews were dispersed to the ends of the earth in AD 70, they should be regathered, retain Biblical Hebrew as their language and called the new nation “Israel”. This is a completely unique journey for any dispersed and uprooted nation.
What does the New Testament teach us concerning Israel?
When Israel is referred to in the New Testament, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are always in mind and this is consistent throughout Scripture. The name Israel sometimes refers to Jews who are saved in Christ and at other times to those who are not in Christ but it NEVER refers solely to the Church or Gentiles.
There are 695 occasions where the writers of the NT quote directly from the OT. On each of these occasions, a literal reading of the OT passage is interpreted and assumed. Anything other than a literal, common sense reading is not even hinted at – why then, do the vast majority of modern-day churches do differently? Do we now know any better than those who were eye-witnesses of Christ?!
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. (Matthew 23:37-39, emphasis added)
Here is a clear prediction of inhabitants of Jerusalem turning to The Lord and of His appearance to them. This has clearly not happened yet, so must be some time future.
Matthew 24 is a rich chapter documenting events in the end times. See verse 15:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (Matthew 24:15)
This is where Jesus directs us to Daniel 9:27 and Daniel 12:11. For this verse to make any sense, Israel has to be in existence, as must the Temple. This cannot have been fulfilled in AD 70 as the Temple and the city was burned to the ground when the Roman army attacked, there was no abomination of desolation because the temple was destroyed before any such thing could have taken place. Daniel 12:11 states, “from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days”. This clearly has to be some future time. Interestingly, the current Jewish state are making preparations for the new temple and the resumption of temple sacrifice.
And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (Luke 1:30-33)
A clear reference here to a literal fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7 regarding David’s throne.
To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? (Acts 1:3-6)
Here we are told the Jesus has been teaching of things “pertaining to the Kingdom of God” for 40 days. The disciples question is verse 6 was then a legitimate question. Jesus does not deny that the Kingdom would be restored to Israel – He would have if this was a mistake – He simply said it was not for them know the times or seasons!
This passage is one of the most important on this topic:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (Romans 11:25-26, emphasis added)
Has the “times of the Gentiles” been fulfilled? Clearly not, as the gentiles are still being saved. If this is correct, we are also in the times where “blindness in part is happened to Israel” as we see today. This will change after the rapture of the true Church where Jesus will gather His faithful.
Paul also says that God will provoke them to jealousy:
I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy (Romans 11:11)
If God did not have a plan for the Jewish people, or had forgotten them, why would He try to make them jealous?
In Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 we believe there are two verses that contain a very serious warning!
I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9)
Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. (Revelation 3:9)
If anyone adheres to “replacement theology”, is it possible that they are guilty of saying they are “Jews, and are not”? If you say you have replaced Israel, you are saying you are now Israel – this idea is called the “synagogue/church/congregation of Satan” occurs twice in Scripture. This needs serious thought!
Later in Revelation, we have a very specific number of Israelites described:
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. (Revelation 7:4-8)
Here we have a precise number of the children of Israel and just to make it clear, we are told exactly what tribes they are from. There is no license from this text or anywhere else not to take it literally. The word “church” is used 7 times in Revelation 2 and 3. If this group of people were also the church, then there is no doubt the word “church” would be used here. As it is, they are called children of Israel which quite simply means they are the children of Israel!
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Father’s name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God. (Revelation 14:1-5)
These Israelites appear again, now with descriptions of their purity. This description would not be there if these 144,000 where allegorical of something/someone else.
It is worth noting that Galatians 6:16 is often misused and confused, but “Israel of God” is referring to the Jewish believers in the Galatian churches. Paul is simply stating that the church (who “walk by this rule”) should receive peace and mercy AND ALSO upon the Israel of God (Israel). This passage strengthens our view instead of weakening it as it confirms the church and Israel are still a separate entity in God’s eyes!
For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:15-16)
Jesus is Jewish!
Many adherents to replacement theology claim that Jesus is Palestinian, not Jewish. When Jesus’ own identity is being challenged it should raise serious concerns!
The very first verse in the New Testament says Jesus was the son of David and the son of Abraham:
The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham (Matthew 1:1)
Abraham in the father of the Jews (Acts 3:12-25).
The name “Jew” comes from the tribe of Judah where Jesus descended from:
For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood (Hebrews 7:14)
We could continue citing many verses that identify Jesus being born a Jew, living His life as a Jew, and both dying and being resurrected as a Jew. These two articles detail all the evidence you need: Got Questions – Was Jesus a Jew?, Jesus is a Jew. It is safe to say that Jesus is Jewish!
The Jewish people ARE being regathered
There are scores of passages in the OT predicting that after a worldwide dispersion (due to disobedience), Israel will be regathered in the end times. A small number of these are listed below:
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:11-12 emphasis added)
The first time was obviously from Babylon. The “second time” is said to be from many places including the “islands of the sea” and can ONLY refer to events to have witnessed in this generation.
For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors. (Isaiah 14:1-2)
A prophecy that Israel will be gathered in their “own land” and NOT a different land!
But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. (Jeremiah 16:15)
Even though Israel would be punished for breaking the terms of the covenant God made with Moses and Israel, His ultimate purpose is to restore her to the land.
Again, in the passage below from Amos we have another clear prophecy that Israel will return to their own land and will remain there forever. This is very unambiguous language:
And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God. (Amos 9:14-15)
The dry bones – the restoration of Israel (not the Church!):
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
Having given Ezekiel the vision, God now interprets it for him. In the interpretation, Ezekiel was informed that the bones represented Israel. Her hopeless, dried condition illustrated her hopelessness of ever being restored. In response to this God promised to bring her back from death and to the land of Israel. God would put His Holy Spirit in her, and she would be settled in her own land. Until 1948, with Israel scattered among the nations and not being a nation one could not understand the literal position. Now with Israel in the land, why would we, who are witnessing the fulfillment of God’s word deny this?!
When reading these passages you will notice that they all have a message of pending doom due to Israel’s continued sin and rebellion. But, always a promise of restoration if and when they repent – never any declaration or hint of final abandonment or replacement with somebody else. Always a promise of them living as a nation, under their King and Messiah, in the literal land with borders as given in the promise to Abraham. Why should we in the Church rob them of these promises by claiming them for ourselves? Do we have a right to edit God’s word and promises?
After reading all this, if you walk outside to ponder what has been said, take a look at the heavens, are the stars still there? If so, then Israel is still a nation before the Lord. And when these ordinances cease from being, so then will Israel cease from being a nation before him!
Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name: If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me forever. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:35-37)
What an amazing promise!
Effects on society of replacement theology
Regular conferences are held that further the “anti-Israel” agenda. A growing number of people are buying into the propaganda that Israel is the villain in the Middle East. Books, websites, blogs, DVDs, petitions promote their slogans: “Zionism is racism”, “the Israeli occupation”, “ethnic cleansing”. Christian zionists are deceptively labeled racists and unfairly made out to be in support of apartheid.
Public opinion is being swayed by this. Many people find themselves going along with it and jumping on the bandwagon without actually looking into the real facts. “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (B.D.S)” campaigns are becoming more frequent, even flash mobs all over the world trying to get people and shops to boycott Israeli products: Brisbane, Melbourne, St Louis. There is a demonic spirit driving this, with the majority of these people not knowing what they are involved in.
The Bible says there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9), this is exactly that – history repeating what Hitler did. In April 1933, Hitler instructed his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, to tell people not to buy Jewish goods. This was just the start and we all know where it ended for the Jewish people!
How should we conclude?
There are clear differences between the Church and Israel in Scripture, there are distinct plans for each which cannot be mistaken. Some of these differences include:
- Israel gave birth to Christ but Christ gave birth to the Church.
- Christ will rescue Israel at the end of the Tribulation period. Christ will return for the Church at the rapture.
- God’s program for Israel started in Genesis 12, for the Church it started in Acts 2.
- Israel is a nation with borders and a capital. The Church is not a nation but is made up of people from all nations.
- Israel fought and continues to fight physical wars, the Church has angelic enemies so fights in spiritual wars.
These events involving Israel demonstrate that God is serious about His Word. We are living at a time when much of the prophecy concerning Israel is being fulfilled precisely and the stage is set perfectly for the currently unfulfilled ones. Since 1948, the land has been returned to the Jews, as rightful owners, and there has been a steady re-gathering of Jews back to their homeland ever since. This phenomena provides undeniable fulfillment to many of the prophecies listed above and we are living in a generation that is witnessing this within our own lifetimes! A quick read of Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38-39 will reveal that world political events are setting the stage for these passages to be played out exactly as stated. God has a deep affection over His people Israel as we read in the following passages:
For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye. (Zechariah 2:8)
And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. (Genesis 12:3)
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. (Psalm 122:6)
These are a very intimate description of how God feels about Israel. Further to this, there are serious warnings against those who interfere with Jerusalem which will again be centre stage for world events:
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. (Zechariah 12:3)
God is clearly jealously protective over Israel and the Church would do very well to pray for, support and point our Jewish friends to the Saviour of all, Jesus Christ. The Church should certainly NOT be involved in any attempt to rob them of their promises or to aid the enemies of Israel currently on the political, military or evangelical landscape.
The mistake of failing to interpret Scripture literally where it is intended can steer us towards disastrous conclusions. If we decide to read certain verses or chapters allegorically (when they make perfect sense literally) then where does that lead us and when does it stop? We end up in a position where we can make God’s Word say anything we want it to! This is more than dangerous and can jeopardize our relationship with God himself!