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Replacement Theology - Has the Church replaced Israel?Today there are many in the Christian community who have embraced the Replacement Theology 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, it is viewed that the Church has replaced Israel. Replacement Theology is the most common name but there are others referring to same view like: covenant theology, fulfilment theology, messianic fulfilment, 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 Jewish people and their purposes in the prophetic outworking of God’s plan.

But is the Church completely different from Israel with its 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.

Replacement theology

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 a more allegorical interpretation – over time, this resulted in anyone with a premillennial belief being deemed heretical. Origen was one of the earliest to start the replacement thinking, Augustine then popularised it further with amillennialism. Throughout the centuries, this belief that the Church was the new Israel continued to be built upon.

Replacement theology saturates most of mainstream Christianity in Europe nowadays and especially in the UK. However, 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 thinking was regularly evident among certain reformers and unfortunately, this seeped into theological and doctrinal thinking and has continued 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 expressed in modern Christendom 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 instead 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 arguments, writes:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, (Romans 11:25-28 NIV)

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 fulfil 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!

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. And if anyone takes words away from this scroll of prophecy, God will take away from that person any share in the tree of life and in the Holy City, which are described in this scroll. (Revelation 22:18-19 NIV)

These two verses sum up the best approach to Scripture. God’s Word means what it says and these two verses contain 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, however, we can be sure they 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 dealings with the Jews. Some covenants are unconditional and do not depend on any obedience of Israel – others are conditional and do depend on the behaviour of Israel.

The Abrahamic Covenant

This solemn covenant is foundational to understanding the promises regarding the land of Israel:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV, emphasis added)

This covenant describes a literal land and is an everlasting covenant – therefore this covenant still applies today. 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 the Jews depending on their faithfulness to God and that when scattered, they would be brought back to the land in the end times. The whole three chapters goes into great detail and is well worth the read, but the verses below sum the passage up:

When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the LORD your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the LORD your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the LORD your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. (Deuteronomy 30:1-5 NIV)

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:

And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies. ‘The LORD declares to you that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’ (2 Samuel 7:10-16 NIV)

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:

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NIV)

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 a 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 sons forsake my law and do not follow my statutes, if they violate my decrees and fail to keep my commands, I will punish their sin with the rod, their iniquity with flogging; but I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness. I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Once for all, I have sworn by my holiness–and I will not lie to David– that his line will continue forever and his throne endure before me like the sun; it will be established forever like the moon, the faithful witness in the sky.(Psalm 89:30-37 NIV)

We have to ask ourselves whether God breaks promises or if he is faithful in keeping covenants? 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 and we need to start at the beginning with Abraham, or Abram as he was then known. God appeared to Abram instructing him to go land that God will show him:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV)

Abraham was led 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:

All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring forever. (Genesis 13:15 NIV)

God confirms the exact size of the land, much larger than Israel currently has:

On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates– (Genesis 15:18 NIV)

The land of Israel was given to the descendants – for an everlasting possession, this is an unconditional covenant:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:7-8 NIV, emphasis added)

God then made it clear the covenant was given to the descendants of Isaac, as opposed to the descendants of Ishmael:

Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. (Genesis 17:19 NIV)

Abraham understood this and sent everyone out of the land except for Isaac:

Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. (Genesis 25:5-6 NIV)

Abraham then confirms the blessing through Isaac son Jacob:

May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” (Genesis 28:3-4 NIV)

Which God confirms with Jacob himself:

There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15 NIV)

Even when Israel turned their backs against God and were exiled it did not change the unconditional nature of this covenant as these verses confirm:

‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors–their unfaithfulness and their hostility toward me, which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies–then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’ (Leviticus 26:40-45 NIV)

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 travelled 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 a “Palestinian people”, it was only after Israel was reestablished that the use of this term began.

God owns the whole earth:

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1 NIV)

And, as outlined above, Scripture clearly describes a certain part of that land being allotted to the Jews.

He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: “To you, I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.” (Psalm 105:8-11 NIV)

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 people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:11-12 NIV)

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 then be regathered, retain Biblical Hebrew as their language and called the new nation “Israel”. This is a completely unique journey for a 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?

Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’ (Matthew 23:37-39 NIV)

Here, Jesus makes a clear prediction of the inhabitants of Jerusalem turning to him – this has not happened yet, so must be some time future.

Matthew 24 is a rich chapter documenting events in the end times. See verse 15:

So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand– (Matthew 24:15 NIV)

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 is abolished and the abomination that causes desolation is set up, there will be 1,290 days.”. This clearly has to be some future time. Interestingly, the current Jewish state is making preparations for the new temple and the resumption of temple sacrifice.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33 NIV)

A clear reference here to a literal fulfilment of 2 Samuel 7 regarding David’s throne.

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:3-6 NIV)

Here we are told the Jesus had been teaching the disciples about things “pertaining to the Kingdom of God” for 40 days. The disciple’s question in 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:

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. (Romans 11:25-26 NIV)

Have 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 “Israel has experienced a hardening in part” 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:

Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. (Romans 11:11 NIV)

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 your afflictions and your poverty–yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. (Revelation 2:9 NIV)

I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars–I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. (Revelation 3:9 NIV)

For those adhering to “replacement theology”, is it possible that they are guilty of claiming 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.

Later in Revelation, we have a very specific number of Israelites described:

Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. (Revelation 7:4-8 NIV)

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 this 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.

Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they remained virgins. They follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and the Lamb. No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless. (Revelation 14:1-5 NIV)

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 a much misused and confused verse, but the term “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 this view instead of weakening it as it confirms the church and Israel are still a separate entity in God’s eyes!

Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule–to the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:15-16 NIV)

Jesus is Jewish!

Perhaps, most bizarrely of all, 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, the son of Abraham:

This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham: (Matthew 1:1 NIV)

Abraham is 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 clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. (Hebrews 7:14 NIV)

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:

In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12 NIV)

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 we are witnessing in this generation.

The LORD will have compassion on Jacob; once again he will choose Israel and will settle them in their own land. Foreigners will join them and unite with the descendants of Jacob. Nations will take them and bring them to their own place. And Israel will take possession of the nations and make them male and female servants in the LORD’s land. They will make captives of their captors and rule over their oppressors. (Isaiah 14:1-2 NIV)

A prophecy that Israel will be gathered in their “own land” and NOT a different land!

but it will be said, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors. (Jeremiah 16:15 NIV)

Even though Israel would be punished for breaking the terms of the covenant God made with Moses and Israel, His ultimate purpose remains 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 my people Israel back from exile. “They will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the LORD your God. (Amos 9:14-15 NIV)

The dry bones – the restoration of Israel (not the Church!):

Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ ” (Ezekiel 37:11-14 NIV)

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 fulfilment of God’s word deny this?

When reading these passages you will notice that they all contain a message of pending doom due to Israel’s continued sin and rebellion. But, also 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 you have read, take a look at the heavens, are the stars still there? If so, then Israel is still a nation before the Lord as the passage below reveals:

This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar–the LORD Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” This is what the LORD says: “Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,” declares the LORD. (Jeremiah 31:35-37 NIV)

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 labelled 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 unaware of 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 texts. 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 phenomenon provides undeniable fulfilment 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 this is what the LORD Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you–for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye– (Zechariah 2:8 NIV)

The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:1-3 NIV)

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. (Psalm 122:6 NIV)

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:

On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves. (Zechariah 12:3 NIV)

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.