For many years the theory that God has rejected Israel and His ancient people – and had substituted the Church in its place – was confined to the Roman Catholic Church and some Reformed theologians.
They taught that since Israel had been disobedient to the laws God gave, He has cast them off and has replaced them in His plan by the Church.
This theory was given prominence by Augustine and was accepted into Catholic teachings. This was one of the reasons for the terrible slaughter of Jews [as well as Muslims] by the Crusaders in the Dark Ages, as well as the anti-Semitism which prevailed in Europe up to and beyond the time of Hitler, re-growing today.
Reformation teachers like Luther and Calvin did nothing to alter this teaching – which is based on ‘spiritualising’ the Scriptures – and it was picked up by those following in their footsteps.
Today this teaching – known as Replacement Theology or Supercessionism – has probably come to a Church near you. Not only Reformed Churches, but Baptist, Uniting, Anglican and Pentecostal Churches are jumping on the ‘anti-Israel’ band-wagon. Don’t be misled!
It is incredible the amount of Scripture twisting and verbal gymnastics that some otherwise ‘good’ theologians will employ to defend their theory that God has abandoned the Jews as His chosen people.
I have heard a Reformed preacher go to great lengths to spiritualise away Paul’s clear teachings about the nation of Israel in the book of Romans – by claiming that ‘all Israel will be saved’ in Romans 11:26 really means only the Church.
That preacher made it sound so convincing, but he didn’t explain how to get around the explicit promises God made about Israel to the prophets, particularly Isaiah 59:21 and Jeremiah 31:33-34.
When God says to Jeremiah ‘I will remember their [Israel’s] sins no more’ that preacher made God out to be a liar, unless language has lost all its meaning.
God told Jeremiah [Jer 31:36]:
‘only if these decrees vanish from my sight … will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.’
And again in Jer 31:37:
‘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.’
In other words, despite Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, God’s mercy continues in this age of grace because of His love for all His chosen people.
Are your Church leaders promoting this teaching that Christians should be anti-Israel and ought to take action to boycott their goods, or opposing Israeli attempts to defend their God-given territory?
This is where Replacement Theology [RT] leads, as well as to horrific examples of anti-Semitism through history. Even in the 19th century Charles Spurgeon wrote:
‘I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough of it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this.’
Some groups in USA have recently held conferences urging participant Churches to support RT on the basis that any ‘Israelite’-type language as applied to believing
Gentiles in the New Testament proves that we have replaced Israel in God’s sight and plan, forgetting that ‘salvation is from the Jews.’ [John 4:22].
There is a lot more to this whole topic than I can cover in this brief newsletter, so I would recommend you have a look at a website such as:http://www.contender.org/?page_id=232 which will give more details on the weaknesses of RT.
Pictures of God’s Faithfulness
There are several clear pictures in the Old Testament that illustrate how God has declared His never-ending provision and care for His chosen people.
1. The burning bush. When God spoke to Moses in the unconsumed burning bush [Exodus 3], I believe it shows not only that He was about to deliver Israel from fiery trials in the future – immediately from Egypt – but also that His people would never be finally consumed or destroyed.
2. The Vineyard. God’s purpose for Israel is also illustrated in two songs of the vineyard in Isaiah chapters 5 and 27.
In the first vineyard God chose good soil, fences, vine stock, a watch tower and did everything to make it fruitful. But it only produced sour fruit so the Lord prophesied His coming judgment on it.
But in the second vineyard the Lord promises that in His final purposes, after the judgment, He will make His vineyard fruitful. And in Isaiah 60:21 He declares:
‘Then will all your people be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendour.’
I recognise that there are some good, solidly Biblical teachers who have nevertheless been led into Replacement Theology [RT] by their education and interpretation of the Bible.
I understand that one can be wrong in one’s understanding of Biblical truth, and this obviously includes myself.
But, if RT causes a person to oppose the Jewish people, or to lead to anti-Semitism, or to blind one to the current ongoing fulfillment of ancient prophecies regarding the rebirth of the nation of Israel, then RT is a false prophecy and its teachers will be held accountable.
We don’t have to like all of Israel’s actions, but we must see them in the context of God’s overall plan for all His people.