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biblical teaching

VIDEO: Replacement theology: Is God finished with Israel?

This is the 54th day of the war between Israel and Hamas, the war that Hamas (which is not a country but rules the Gaza Strip, a political entity) started on Oct 7. There is a “pause” in the fighting, as Hamas exploits Israel’s love of life; while Hamas says that it loves death even more. Israel is putting at risk its war objectives to destroy the terrorist group and infrastructure in order to have all of the hostages released, on terms favorable to Hamas. This mercy during wrath is a testimony of the God of Israel, YHVH of Armies/Hosts. Israel’s hope is in HIM, and not in herself or in her might and power. Yeshua/Jesus died in weakness, but rose from the dead in great power! We are led like sheep to the slaughter, but our faith is in the God of the Resurrection. 

Classic “replacement theology,” by various names, teaches that God (YHVH), who cut/made covenants and promises to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has already fulfilled them all in the person of Jesus Christ, and in the blood of the New Covenant that He shed on the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, and in His subsequent resurrection, and His subsequent ascension back to Heaven, from where He now reigns at the Father’s right hand.

So, Jewish people as Jews; Israel as a particular nation in a particular land, which YHVH promised with an oath to give to the physical descendants of Jacob, with Jerusalem as its capital – all this is no longer relevant. The Church (believers in Jesus everywhere) has replaced Israel as the people of the God of Abraham, and the world is its gospel field, and Heaven forever as the next and final destination for those written in the Book of Life. God is finished with physical Israel; finished with this Earth: die and go to Heaven; or, die and go to Hell. There is no literal 1,000-year reign of Yeshua/Jesus on this planet, not to mention from Jerusalem in Israel, sitting on the throne of David. Such is the majority Christian worldview.

Let’s read to see if this is so:  Mt 5:17-19Rom 11:25-36Rom 15:8-9. These passages and verses all refer back to the Old Testament, so for those who have one, it is best to read it all.

People are people, and we all do what people do:

– Adam, the first human, probably added to God’s command not to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when he told his wife, Eve,: “not to even touch it!” Sweetie, if you don’t touch it, you can’t eat it.

– Jews replaced YHVH God’s commandments with their own interpretations and traditions, nullifying God’s word, which is what Adam did.

– Christians replaced Yeshua’s/Jesus’ word by only focusing on the Father’s severe chastisements and punishments to the Jewish people and nation; ignoring His offer of forgiveness and His redemptive purposes for them, which will be a blessing for all the world, and will vindicate and sanctify His holy Name. The Jewish people wanted to exclude Gentiles from an equal relationship with the one, true, living God; and the Christians wanted to forever keep God’s blessings for themselves, and the Jews subservient to them with all of the curses. People do what people do!

– Islam came along with another god and said that both Jews and Christians are replaced by Muslims, who are to make everyone submit to their god, even through threats and force.

Replacement theology produces one-upmanship and bad fruit.

The Jewish people were essentially exiled and scattered from the promised Land of Israel by Rome after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 AD, and then again in 135 AD.  We were scattered among the Gentiles/nations for about 1,800 years before a significant number of Jewish people began to return to their historic homeland – then, and still, called Palestine, as an affront to the Jews, and to YHVH, the God of Israel. The return was due, in part, to God’s timing, and largely a consequence of incessant antisemitism in many countries, especially in Western Christianized nations, and where Islam ruled. The anti-Jew hostility culminated in the Holocaust by the Nazis during WWII.

While there are always exceptions, thank God, but as a result of the extermination of about 6,000,000 Jews (two-thirds of European Jewry), many Jews became atheists, or, at best, agnostic: “Where was God?!” Many Christians were complacent, due to replacement theology, thinking that God might be finally judging the Jewish people: “They must deserve it for killing Christ, the Son of God!” Many Muslims thought that their god was greater than YEHOVAH/YAHWEH, God of the Jews, and that he had prevented the Jews from reestablishing their homeland in the promised land of Israel, and that the land of inheritance would become theirs. (Does this remind you of Yeshua being thrown out of the vineyard and killed, and the belief of Jewish people that the inheritance will be theirs without having to believe in Jesus/Yeshua?) 

All three of these contending groups and faiths have this in common: Israel, as a nation for the Jewish people (and with the inclusion of non-Jews) in the Promised Land of Canaan, and the literal, physical return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rule and reign for 1,000 years from this land and as the King of Israel, was all replaced by their own faulty interpretations of the whole counsel of God in the whole of the Bible.

But…praise the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel! He did show Himself very much alive and active on behalf of His holy Name by establishing the current miraculous State of Israel in 1948 – even using, in His sovereign wisdom, Gentile world powers since WWI to legally make it lawful and legitimate. And there have been continual conflicts and wars ever since, even as I write this. God is in the process of bringing to fulfillment many prophecies through His prophets long ago in both the Old and the New Testaments. Israel is currently a largely secular state but with a revival of religious nationalism. God’s covenant judgments upon His unbelieving, but still beloved “first-born son” and people, are not yet complete. (Ex 4:21-22)

The prevailing worldview of Rabbinic Judaism, of historic Christianity, and of Islam have this in common: The Word of YHVH God, which will never pass away, has been replaced because of unbelief and disobedience. This is why Israel and Jewish people still do not enjoy any semblance of lasting peace from God, and security from their enemies. This is why many Christians cannot clearly discern which “side” to take in this present just war. This is why jihadi Islamists and Muslims want to eradicate Israel and Jews and Christians for who they are and who they represent. To many Christians and to nearly all Muslims, Israel does not need to – even should not – exist as a sovereign nation-state of and for the Jewish people; therefore, its right and moral obligation to defend itself, or to defeat its satanically-driven intractable enemies is questioned, despite continual attacks across borders over many years by the enemy into Israeli sovereign territory. 

Why doesn’t Hamas surrender, and release all of the hostages? Why doesn’t “the world” demand Hamas to do just that, and the terrible destruction and loss of life would end?! Only Israel is pressured to cease fighting and to let the enemy continue his avowed aim to eradicate Israel and the Jewish people, and Christians.

This is ignoring worldly reality, and we do pray for God to have mercy and to save as many Gazans – even, if possible, Hamas members and sympathizers – and as many Israeli Jews and Arabs, that their sins be forgiven and their lawless deeds be remembered no more! There will be wars until the end, and we cannot impose on nations a standard that Jesus calls His disciples to. Only when He comes will wars cease; and the time may come before then when believing Christians will not be taking up carnal weapons. But, meanwhile, the New Testament does not forbid believers from being active in military service, where they can also serve the Lord in ways that honor His Name.

Why do so many Arab Evangelical Christians oppose Israel, even to the extent of defending an enemy not only of the State of Israel and of Jewish people, but also enemies of them as Christians? I believe it is largely because they have unrepentantly embraced replacement theology; so, to them, Israel’s existence is only seen as the cause of much suffering for them as Arabs – the Naqba/catastrophe. And, they have been Islamized, and this has put them in fear of jihadi Muslims who would threaten their lives more than fear the Lord, who can not only kill the body but also cast both the body and the soul to Hell. 

And, on the other side, there are many Messianic Jews who refuse to identify themselves as Christians, for fear of being thought to be Gentiles and siding with the perceived enemy of Jews historically – Yeshua/Jesus and those who follow Him. So the Arabs don’t want to be considered Zionists or collaborators, and the Jews don’t want to be considered outside their camp, either. These are generalizations, but to serve the Messiah/Christ, these are elements of risk and danger in our discipleship of being identified with Him, and with His Kingdom that is not of this world.

If these Arab/Palestinian brothers and sisters in Christ think that the promised land of Israel for the Jewish people is no longer relevant to God, or that Israel at this time has no right to exist because the Jewish people have not yet repented of piercing the Son of God, then why do they care so much that this land should be an Islamic jihadist country with Jerusalem as its capital? This is not biblically defensible. What about the apostle’s teaching in Romans 13 about us, as believers, being subject to the governing authorities, which are from God? This is also an element of discipleship as a follower of Yasua.

God will complete His Fatherly goodness and severity towards His wayward chosen family through the still-to-come Jacob’s Trouble/Great Tribulation, which will necessarily also include His redeemed family in Christ/Messiah. YHVH’s promise is that the nation of Israel will be delivered and saved through this worst distress in the history of their nation, and of the world. Israel will be YHVH’s holy people, and He will be their God; and the Bride of the Lamb will be pure and spotless. (Jer 30:7-9Dan 12:1Mt 24:15-22Rev 7:9-17). 

There is no “replacement theology” with YHVH God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!”

Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.

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