I originally published this piece back in 2014 on RedState. Seeing that Erick began a discussion on the differences in dispensationalism, postmillennialism, and various other doctrines, I thought I’d republish this as a reasoned argument against what I consider the most pernicious and damaging doctrine to take root in the Church universal.
That would be Replacement Theology (which goes hand-in-hand with dispensationalism)–the belief that the Church has replaced the Jews as God’s people, and all the covenants, blessings, and Biblical prophecies to the Jews are now supplanted by the Church.
It’s wrong, and here’s why.
Politically, culturally, and theologically, American Christians should support Israel, as a Jewish state, as a free nation, and as the Holy Land set aside for God’s purposes. Believing otherwise is counter to scripture, Christian faith, and American interests.
Many Christians believe that since the Temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. and Israel was scattered, that God had no plans for Israel, and instead has passed his blessings to the Church. Nothing could be further from God’s truth, and no belief could be more damaging and pernicious to God’s purpose in bringing redemption to the world.
The thought that somehow God would turn against His chosen people is bewildering to me. Yet many Christians believe exactly that. They believe that a loving, merciful God, a God of unlimited grace, patience, and forgiveness, would cease to forgive His people Israel because they betrayed Him one last time. Many Christians believe that when Christ came to the earth as a Jew and an Israelite, that He was somehow testing Israel, and when they betrayed him to the cross, they failed the test and were lost forever. Scripture proves otherwise.
Christians and Jews, and I among them both, believe that God created everything, because Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning, God…” (and that’s enough for me). God has a plan from the subatomic to the cosmic, and only His mind can comprehend it. I’m glad of that, because my mind is pretty limited, as minds go. God’s plan includes a people who are called to be His people, an example to the nations of the world.
The first mention of Israel is in Genesis 32, where God gives Jacob that name after he fought with a man, not an angel or an apparition, but the form of a man. Many theologians believe this man is a pre-incarnate Christ, and it almost surely is, since he blessed Jacob/Israel, who named the place Peniel (“face of God”), where he met the Lord face to face. God blessed Abraham in Genesis 12, “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” There are over 2600 references to “Israel” in the Bible. Obviously, it’s a major theme, and in fact the central protagonist of the Old Testament.
Paul, the most prolific of New Testament writers and an Apostle of God, spent an entire chapter of Romans laying out God’s plan for Israel in the age of the Church. The key verse is Romans 11:29 “ For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” God called Israel to be a light to the nations, indeed the world, and indeed they have been repeatedly used by God in that role. They’ve also been an example for the world of the consequences of unbelief and disobedience.
To believe that Israel has no special place in God’s order as a nation, you have to believe that God has not called the Jews back to their land, that Zionism is a human invention, and that God has no plan to gather Israel at the end times. You have to believe that Jacob’s (Israel’s) purchase of the land near Shechem, where he built an altar which he called El-Elohe-Israel (God, the God of Israel) was his own personal transaction and had no prophetic value. You have to believe that Deuteronomy 4:40 “I am giving you these instructions so you will enjoy a long life in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time” is not really for all time. You have to believe that this scripture in 1 Chronicles 17 is false.
Furthermore, I declare that the Lord will build a house for you—a dynasty of kings! For when you die and join your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, one of your sons, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for me. And I will secure his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my favor from him as I took it from the one who ruled before you. I will confirm him as king over my house and my kingdom for all time, and his throne will be secure forever.
To believe God is finished with the Jews, you have to believe that Christ was raised as a descendent of the line of David for some other reason than to fulfill this scripture. You have to believe that Jesus was a King for everyone except those for whom He was prophesied and promised. You have to believe that the sign Pilate had placed above Jesus’ head on the cross “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews” means that Jesus was the king of a dead, discarded people. You have to believe like the Sadducees, who questioned Jesus in Luke chapter 20, where Jesus answered:
But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—even Moses proved this when he wrote about the burning bush. Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, he referred to the Lord as ‘the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’So he is the God of the living, not the dead, for they are all alive to him.
Those men dared not ask Jesus any more questions. Yet some Christians who believe in Replacement Theology continue to test God with convoluted logic about Israel and politics and world opinion. Some claim that the Church is the new Israel. If that’s so, then why hasn’t the Church been called to the Holy Land and to occupy it and gather there? Why has the Church, as a whole, focused everywhere else except Israel? Of course, that’s the Great Commission, to preach the Gospel around the world. Yet God has a purpose for Jerusalem; in Zechariah 14:4,
And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives,
Which faces Jerusalem on the east.
And the Mount of Olives shall be split in two,
From east to west,
Making a very large valley;
Half of the mountain shall move toward the north
And half of it toward the south.
This is the same prophet who wrote in Zechariah 9 “Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, A colt, the foal of a donkey.” If we know that Jesus fulfilled that former scripture at His first coming, He will surely fulfill the latter in His second. It’s foolish to believe that the Church will somehow develop a longing to occupy the Holy Land and take Israel’s place there. It’s foolish to believe that God will fulfill scripture and prophecy outside the context of His people Israel.
As for America, we have a very prominent place in God’s plan to gather Israel in the Holy Land. God used America and Americans, our wealth, our power, and our belief, to form, recognize, and equip Israel. It was American money that (illegally) bought arms for the Haganah and the Irgun, paramilitary organizations that merged to become the IDF in May 1948. It was Harry Truman who, against his own State Department, recognized Israel de facto as a nation, which was quickly followed by the Soviet Union. America was very much a player in the Zionist movement. America also has a long history with a free Jewish population, almost uniquely so.
Americans and Israelis are inextricably linked. Golda Meir was born a Russian Jew and emigrated at 8 years old to Milwaukee. She was an American for the next 42 years until Israel became a nation. She lived in the Land (called “Palestine”) for over 20 of those years, so if she was not an American, I suppose you could call her a Palestinian, which I believe would upset many in the anti-Israel camp, so we’ll stick with American. Signer of the Israeli Declaration of Independence Ze’ev Gold was also an American citizen.
As of 2013, there were approximately 13.9 million Jews in the world, which was about 0.2% of the population. About half of those live in Israel, and 4.2 million of the rest are in the USA. Israel and the USA have by far the largest concentrations of Jews in the world. If you believe this is somehow by chance, then maybe you believe that history is all by chance and God is just letting things unfold on their own. I am fairly certain that’s not the case.
If you need more proof that the 0.2% Jewish world population has something special, consider this: Jews have won 20% of all Nobel prizes [N.B. John Michael Kosterlitz, a Jewish professor at Brown University, just won the 2016 Nobel Price for physics], with an astonishing 41% in economics and 26% in physics. This means that Jews have a 100-fold impact on the world in fields considered to be important by Nobel standards. In economics, Jews have a 200-fold impact, which is pretty evident if you look at Hollywood and Wall Street. This is really a statistical impossibility, not just an outlier, but a singular case which in any scientific study would necessitate investigation of a cause. The typical causes offered up by those who believe Jews are just another ethnic group, emphasis on education, cultural values of thrift and hard work, and preferences for helping other Jews, hold no water. The same values can be attributed to other cultures whose impact is statistically in line with the world’s population. The conclusion has to be that God is using Jews to be a light to the nations: a very bright light that attracts a lot of attention.
The most powerful proof I have, theologically, of Israel’s prominence in God’s plan is Satan’s opposition. Jesus said in John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” The Jewish people have suffered opposition and persecution in every place, in every time, whether scattered, gathered, possessed of much, or dispossessed of all they have. Since 70 A.D. when the Romans scattered them, through expulsions, pogroms, eliminations, forced conversions, and the Holocaust, Jews have been the target of the most vicious attacks the world can perpetrate. To believe the Jews and Israel are not special, you have to believe that there’s some inherent trait or characteristic which makes Jews so hateable. They really have to be some of the worst people on earth to engender such virulent hatred around the world.
Or maybe they’re a very bright light that the darkness hates. John 3:19-21: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” Substitute “Israel” for “light”. And this is the condemnation, that Israel has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than Israel, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates Israel and does not come to Israel, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to Israel, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God. Does this mean that everything Israel does is not sin? No. It means that everything Israel does and is, is done in God.
God has a will for Israel, that they may all be saved (Romans 11:26). Paul has a message for the Church, which still speaks today.
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
Supporting Israel is nothing less than standing with God in bringing forth life from the dead. Isn’t that what Israel is about? They brought forth crops out of dead desert land. They brought forth technology out of a land bereft of education or culture. Israel continues to do so. Tel-Aviv is the hottest technology start-up capital concentration outside of Silicon Valley. Supporting Israel has little to do with the political arguments about settlements and West Bank and peace with the Palestinians. There will always be conflict where darkness and light collide.
As Christians, we have a calling to support Israel because it’s God’s desire. As Americans, we have an obligation to support Israel because they represent a free society in a part of the world dominated by oppressive dictatorships. Most importantly, we must support Israel because doing so is walking in the light. We must walk in the light because we are in Christ. John 1.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
If you still believe Israel isn’t worth supporting, then I will continue to pray for you, that the light will overcome the darkness for you also.