“He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the word which he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, His oath to Isaac, and confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant, saying, ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the allotment of your inheritance.’” (Psalm 105:7-11)
One of the great mysteries of ecclesiastical history is how the professing Church somehow lost sight of the eternal nature of God’s covenant with Abraham. Or perhaps it was that they managed to transfer its application to the Church while leaving out those to whom it was originally given. Just look at Psalm 105 above. Not just to Abraham, but to Isaac and Jacob also the land of Canaan was given. It was a physical promise to a physical people. Yet for centuries the Church had moved away from that teaching. Still God’s word remained.
THE PROMISE IS EVERLASTING
- Let’s get down to the bottom line. There is a theology that has been building for millennia, that says that Israel was originally the centerpiece of God’s plan – but they messed up – and now the Church has replaced it. This way of thinking holds that the promises that God has made to Israel – was forfeited when the Jews rejected Jesus in the 1st Century – and they now belong to the Church. So the promises made to Israel – involving the restoration to the Land – and the concomitant blessings that accompany those promises – become spiritualized. They are seen as merely allegory. So the existence of the modern State of Israel is an aberration. Perhaps worse; a construct of Satan put in place to deceive believers. There have been two constants that run through history, no matter how one might parse it: Man’s rebellion against God and a hate for God’s People, Israel. This is true from the ancient Persians to the modern ones, the Iranians; from the Romans to the Islamists to the Palestinians to the Nazis and Communists; from overtly persecuting nations like the Germans of WWII to persecuted nations like the Poles. Jew hatred runs deep. That hatred is driven by something called Replacement Theology (RT). It is the notion that the Jews have been set aside; that they have forfeited the promises of and the blessings and that these have been appropriated by the Church. It is more than a philosophical understanding that has infected a huge portion of Christianity. Its roots are Older & Deeper than we might think. And it’s been the inspiration for severe damage …….and ongoing persecution ……..for centuries.
You see, the world, and even America it seems, is not interested in blessing God’s People. The World – and America – is instead interested in establishing a the non-existent Palestinian nation on land promised to Israel by God. Scripture tells us there is coming a day when all the nations will turn against Israel and Jerusalem. The lie or Replacement Theology has taken hold. But it is NOT God’s will. It is NOT God’s heart. So let’s begin.
“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when 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 lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to themsays the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people…… for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-33, 34)
We will start with this one principle in mind: We serve a multi-faceted God. His character is reflected in His Names and revealed in Scripture. He is the Creator God, Elohay Kedem – God of the Beginning: (Deuteronomy 33:27) He is the God of Justice, Elohay Mishpat: (Isaiah 30:18) and the God of Forgiveness, Elohay Selichot. God is also Jehovah-Rapha: The Lord Who Heals You and Jehvah Jireh, the Provider God. By Scripture we know that He is the God who sustains and the God of History and Prophecy. Isaiah 46:9-10 reads: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.” But what is God’s pleasure? What is God’s heart?
Let’s start by looking at prophecy. God promises “that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) He works an incredible calculus to fulfill that promise. Think on this: Man operates in the realm of Free Will. We each make millions of decisions in the course of our lifetimes. Taken together, billions of people make billions of free will decisions every day; the majority of these, I would venture, are at cross purposes with the perfect will of God. Yet somehow, out of it all, God accomplishes His purposes. And we live in a time when God’s prophetic plan is unfolding before our eyes in the daily news. That prophecy shows the End Game. But it shows something more. It shows God’s heart.
It’s been working from the beginning. Look how it’s played out. In the beginning, in the Garden, God created a perfect environment. Adam and Eve rebelled. The Righteous Judge must act, yet He provides a pathway to forgiveness. His heart is reconciliation with His creation. And so Messiah is promised. God makes a way.
Some centuries later comes the days of Babel and the days of Noah. Rebellion fills the land. Paganism takes hold. With the exception of Noah and his family, the entire earth turns from the counsel of God. Judgement is decreed on those who will not bow the knee. But in the midst of this worldwide destruction, God makes a way. His heart is for man. And the story continues over and over. Man continues to rebel – and God continues to work toward His purposes – to fulfill the desire of His heart. He has promised to provide a Messiah, a Saviour. So He establishes a nation where there is none; Israel. He calls Israel “my beloved.” (Isaiah 5:1) And He blesses them – and they rebel – and God chastens them – and they repent – and He restores them. That’s the formula. Just shake and repeat. The times of rebellion are always followed by times of repentance – then times of restoration.
Then in the fullness of time, Messiah comes. But for the most part, the nation of Israel does not recognize Him nor accept Him. And they are once again scattered, “because,” as He told them, “you did not know the time of your visitation.” (Luke 19:44) And this scattering is a result of their free will choice. Yet God uses that event to bring the Gentile nations to faith. It is in Romans 11:11-12 that Paul asks and answers his own question. “I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!” If you notice, couched in Paul’s response is the promise of Israel’s eventual restoration.
You see Israel is at the very center of God’s plan. It has been estimated that about 83% of the Bible is about Israel. Israel serves not only as the vehicle for the entrance of the Messiah into the world – but also as His final destination when He returns. And it is all rooted in the covenant God made with Abraham as first enunciated in Genesis 12:3. But it rests not there alone but is confirmed and reconfirmed many times in scripture. In Genesis 13:14-17 “The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (ESV)
In Genesis 15:7 God told Abram: “I am the Lord who brought you out from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to possess.” (ESV) The chapter goes on to describe how God confirmed His word through a covenantal ceremony performed by God Himself after having put Abram into a deep sleep. This was an unconditional covenant guaranteed by the very word of God. The passage concludes with this promise from the Almighty. “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.’” (Genesis 15:18-21) (ESV)
So the Abrahamic Covenant is everlasting unlike the Mosaic Covenant which is conditional. It is at its root a statement of the Law and it comes with blessings and curses. In Exodus 19:5-8 God tells Israel: “‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.’ So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the Lord has spoken we will do.’ And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.” (ESV)
In Deuteronomy 28 the consequences of both obedience and rebellion is spelled out in some detail. Verses 1&2 read: “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (ESV) But curses would follow disobedience. “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. ‘The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.’” (Deuteronomy 28:15-20) (ESV)
So what’s the purpose of this conditional covenant which history has well proven was not able to be kept. The Mosaic Covenant does not contradict the grace of God. In fact it acts as a shining light that points to the fact that we are unable to follow His law and are therefore hopeless without God. It is the Apostle Paul that spells out the purpose of the Law. “Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:24-25)
Now just as God said in Deuteronomy 28, Israel was twice driven from the Land; the first time by the Babylonian captivity and the second time beginning with the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70 and completed after the failure of the Bar Kochba revolt when the Romans defeated that messianic pretender in AD 135. That second scattering lasted until 1948 with the establishment of the modern State of Israel. That God would restore Israel a second time was foretold by the Prophet Isaiah even before Israel was exiled the first time. “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 who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. He will set up a banner for the nations, And will assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:11-12)
God was assuring Israel that He would be true to His promise. It was a promise given originally to Abraham – but also confirmed to his descendants. To Abraham’s son Isaac God said: “I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 26:3-4) And God gave this promise to Isaac’s son Jacob. “And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’” (Genesis 28:13-15) The Abrahamic Covenant is an eternal covenant, it is unconditional and essential to it is the control of the physical land of Israel.
So where did Replacement Theology come from? Well, we have to look back to the days of the early Church. And here is where it starts to get interesting – because what happened in the centuries that followed has set the tone for how our world treats Israel and the Jews through history and even today. It is a sad and shameful and fascinating story.