Is Modern Israel the Key to God’s Plan?

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By Jon Weatherly

Is the founding of the modern state of Israel a sign that Jesus will return soon? Does God judge today’s nations based on how they treat Israel, or Jews in general? Does the Bible teach Christians always to side with Israel in conflicts with its neighbors?

Many American Christians would answer all of these questions in the affirmative. Through the influence of popular preachers and writers, they have come to believe the modern state of Israel plays a clear and crucial role in the Bible. They are therefore prepared to give unconditional, unqualified support to the nation of Israel, believing that their own nation’s safety and prosperity depend on it. And they believe that events in the Middle East are indicators that Jesus will return very soon.

My study of the Bible leads me to answer each question in the negative. Certainly ancient Israel is the center of attention in the Bible. Certainly God made crucial promises to Abraham, David, and the people of ancient Israel. Certainly God’s promises remain valid despite Israel’s unfaithfulness. Certainly the great biblical heroes were Jews, including Jesus himself.

But the clear, unequivocal witness of the Bible is that God’s promises to Israel are fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Through one Israelite, Jesus Christ, God has accomplished and is accomplishing everything he had promised Israel. The focus of God’s promises is not on modern Israel but on Jesus, the one who brings to people of all nations the blessing of the God of Israel, the God who does not play favorites.

The Bible’s message on this point is so pervasive we can only introduce a sample of the ways it is presented in each testament. We will explore three crucial promises of the Old Testament, followed by a survey of their fulfillment in the New Testament.

 

The Promise to Abraham: Blessing All Nations

While Genesis 1 and 2 show us the wonder of God’s perfect creation, Genesis 3–11 portray the brutality of human rebellion against God. What will the powerful, benevolent Creator do with a world ruined by human rebellion? The answer is found in Genesis 12. God calls an individual, Abram, a man of no special accomplishment, and gives him a dramatic promise:

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3)1.

The promise has several elements: that Abram’s descendants will become a great nation in the land, that God’s judgment on others will be based on their actions toward Abram, and ultimately, that God will bless the entire world through Abram. While all these elements are important, the last one is vital, and it is placed at the end for emphasis. The world in rebellion against its Creator, the world portrayed in Genesis 3–11, will be blessed by its Creator through Abram.

This, then, is God’s purpose for Israel: the blessing of all nations. God repeats the promise to Abram and his descendants (Genesis 13:14-17; 15:18-21; 17:1-8; 18:17, 18; 22:17, 18; 26:4; 28:13, 14; 35:11, 12), and it becomes a theme of Israel’s psalmists and prophets (Psalm 2:1-12; 22:27, 28; Isaiah 25:6-8; 42:1, 6; 49:6; 66:19, 20; Micah 4:2, 3). The God of Israel is the God of all nations and will therefore bless people of all nations.

 

The Promise to David: An Eternal King Who Builds God’s House

Centuries after the promise to Abram, God’s promise to David adds another layer to his dealings with Israel. David had ascended the throne, ending Israel’s agony under the ungodly, ineffective leadership of Saul. David planned to build a temple for God in newly conquered Jerusalem, but through the prophet Nathan, God gave David different instructions:

“When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16).

While it appears that Solomon fulfills the promise by building the temple in Jerusalem, by his idolatry Solomon proves himself not to be the promised one. Still, God’s promise remains constant (1 Kings 11:11-13). As with the promise to bless the nations, God reiterates the promise of a great king and temple builder to subsequent generations (Psalm 18:50; 89:3, 4, 35-37; 132:10-12, 17, 18; Isaiah 7:13, 14; 9:6, 7; 11:1-10; 16:5; 22:22; Jeremiah 23:5, 6; 33:15-18; Ezekiel 34:23, 24; 37:24; Hosea 3:5).

 

The Postexilic Promise: A Second Exodus

Israel’s defining experience was the exodus, God’s delivery of Israel from Egyptian slavery to freedom in the promised land. With that undeserved blessing, Israel received a solemn duty: to obey God’s law. To do otherwise, Moses explained, would mean that God would return Israel to bondage under foreigners, as they had experienced in Egypt (Deuteronomy 29:14-29). But beyond that warning lay another promise: that God would restore the nation again in a second exodus:

“And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers” (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).

This warning and promise became foundational to Israel’s history. Prophets warned that exile would be Israel’s punishment for disobedience (Isaiah 13:3; Jeremiah 1:15; 20:4, 5; 25:8-11; 27:6; 32:36-38; 43:10). But beyond exile was the repeated promise that God would restore the nation (Isaiah 40:1-5; 49:7-26; Jeremiah 32:37-44; Ezekiel 37:1-28). That promise tied together the other great promises: Israel’s return would be led by the promised king and would mean that the nations would know and worship the true God.

Of course, Israel’s history unfolded just so. First the northern kingdom was taken captive by Assyria, then the southern kingdom by Babylon. A long generation after the Babylonian exile, Cyrus, emperor of Persia, defeated Babylon and permitted the Jewish exiles to return (2 Chronicles 36:22, 23). But the experience of the returned exiles was far from glorious. They had no king, their temple was far from glorious, and the nations were just as pagan as before. To their discouraged situation the prophets spoke again, affirming that God would one day send the king (Zechariah 3:8; 6:12), build the true temple (Haggai 2:6-9), and make himself known to all peoples (Zechariah 8:23).

 

The Promises Fulfilled in Christ

Someone has said that God is sovereign not only in the promises he makes but also in how he chooses to fulfill them. There is little question that many of ancient Israel’s faithful expected God’s promises to be fulfilled in political, military, and nationalistic terms. But the witness of the New Testament is that God stood those expectations on their head. In Christ, God fulfilled all his promises to Israel—and he did so not with conventional human power but the power of Christ’s submissive, loving self-sacrifice and surprising, triumphant resurrection. This is the constant, unequivocal message of virtually every book of the New Testament.

The four Gospels make this point abundantly clear:

• Jesus’ genealogy emphasizes his place in a series marked by Abraham, David, and the exile (Matthew 1:1-17).

• In the wilderness Jesus confronts and defeats Satan over 40 days, in contrast to Israel’s failure over 40 years.

• He consistently claims authority to forgive sin, the function of the temple (Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12, 13; Luke 4:1-13).

• He claims authority over the Sabbath that surpasses David’s (Matthew 12:1-8; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5).

• He goes to the lost sheep of Israel but extends his mercy to Gentiles (Matthew 8:5-13; 15:21-28; Mark 7:25-30; Luke 7:1-10).

• He surpasses the functions of the Mosaic law and of Moses himself (Matthew 14:15-20; 15:32-39; Mark 6:35-43; 8:1-9; Luke 9:12-17; John 2:1-11; 3:1-15; 5:1-47; 6:5-14, 35, 48; 7:37, 38; 8:12, 58; 9:5; 10:1-18; 11:25; 15:1-8).

• He claims authority to define the temple’s purity and announce its fate (Matthew 21:12, 13; 24:2; Mark 11:15-17; 13:2; Luke 19:45, 46; 21:6; John 2:13-21).

• He announces his presence as the end of the mourning for the exile (Matthew 9:14-17; Mark 2:18-22; Luke 5:33-39).

• He takes the elements of Israel’s remembrance of the exodus and reinterprets it to refer to himself (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20).

• He presents himself as the pinnacle of God’s suffering people (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34 [Psalm 22:1]; Luke 23:46 [Psalm 31:5]; John 19:28 [Psalm 69:21]).

• Raised from the dead in a way that echoes God’s promise to restore Israel from exile (Isaiah 26:19; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Daniel 12:2), he announces that the entirety of the Scriptures has been fulfilled in his death and resurrection (Luke 24:25-27, 44-47), that he possesses all authority (Matthew 28:18), and that the nations are now to become his people (Matthew 28:19; Luke 24:47).

In other words, God has fulfilled his promises to Israel. How? One (Jesus, the Messiah) in Israel assumes the nation’s purpose. He is the true king. He is himself the true temple. He restores God’s people from exile and blesses all the nations.

So it is no wonder that the rest of the New Testament speaks of Jesus in terms emphasizing his fulfillment of God’s promises. Jesus is . . .

• the promised Son of David (Acts 2:25-31; 13:22, 23, 34-39; Romans 1:3; 2 Timothy 2:8; Revelation 5:5),

• God’s anointed king or “Christ” (Acts 9:22; 17:3; 1 John 2:22; 5:1),

• the head of a body that now constitutes the true temple where God’s Spirit dwells (Romans 12:4, 5; 1 Corinthians 3:16, 17; 12:12-27; Ephesians 1:22, 23; 2:16-22),

• the one who makes the nations God’s people by faith in him (Galatians 3:8, 14).

With Israel’s role thus fulfilled, the law is understood as a tutor to bring people to Christ (Galatians 3:24), as a shadow to which Christ corresponds as the solid, substantial thing (Colossians 2:16, 17).

Christ once and for all surpasses all that God has done before (Hebrews 1:1-4).

In sum, Christ fulfills all the promises God made to Israel. In what he has done in his incarnation, does now through the church, and will do at his return, the entirety of scriptural promise finds fulfillment.

 

Questions for Today

Some object to this understanding, labeling it “replacement theology.” They insist that God’s promises to Israel are unconditional and so are still in force. In fact, they have a point, though not quite the point they try to make. God’s promises to Israel were unconditional. Israel was not “replaced” because it was defective. Rather, in Christ, God did what he intended to do: fulfill Israel’s promises as his incarnate Son assumed Israel’s role. Call this not a “replacement theology” but “fulfillment theology.”

But are God’s warnings about blessing and cursing Israel still in force? Should we not still pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6)? Yes, they are; and yes, we should. But we do so with a right understanding of Christ’s role. Since Christ fulfills Israel’s purpose, those who “bless” or “curse” Abram are those who believe or reject Christ. Likewise, Jerusalem’s peace has the same source as the world’s peace: it comes only through Christ (Luke 19:41, 42). Our prayer and our purpose should not be that modern Israel prevail against its political enemies at any cost, but that all people, Jews and Gentiles, would come to know Jesus, becoming citizens of the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:2).

But is modern Israel’s founding not the great sign of the second coming, the flowering of the fig tree that portends the end of this age (Matthew 24:32, 33)? Jesus said emphatically that no one could presume to know the time of his return (Matthew 24:36), that no political event points to it (Matthew 24:6-8). Rather, every time we see suffering, chaos, and injustice in the world, we should know that he is near, that he has not abandoned his people or his cause in the world, and that he will indeed prevail over evil. His coming will be soon enough for all his people, though not at a time anyone can anticipate. To claim otherwise is to claim to know more than Jesus himself!

How, then, should Christians evaluate the situation in the Middle East? Certainly events there are complex, tragic, and deeply disturbing. Injustices and atrocities have been committed by and on all sides. Christians who pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven will long for peace and justice to be established in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the surrounding regions. But they may sincerely differ in how they understand the politics. The Bible is silent on modern Israel, for Israel’s biblical mission was completed by Christ.

Christians will differ in opinions on the politics of the Middle East. But we dare not differ about Christ’s supremacy. To elevate modern Israel to a place of biblical prominence is to diminish Christ as less than the complete fulfillment of God’s promises.

________

 

1All Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

 

Jon Weatherly is vice president for academic affairs and professor of New Testament at Cincinnati (Ohio) Christian University.

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34 Comments

  1. I appreciated the article and all the scripture references, but wonder how one can write
    such an article without any mention of Romans 9, 10, and 11. It would be helpful if
    professor Weatherly would write a follow-up article with an interpretation of this very
    important section of the New Testament.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Weatherly, for so clearly enunciating this point! I am keeping a copy of this to remind me and to help others with this confusing topic! Thanks!

  3. Jesus was indeed the fulfillment of Israel’s promises; yet I think it is also true that he “replaced” Israel, in the sense that his new international kingdom of disciples replaces the kingdom of Israel as God’s kingdom. This replacement is also due to Israel’s disobedience, as taught, for example, in Jesus’ parable of the wicked tenants: Israel’s leaders have not given God the fruit (obedience) required, and so they will be punished; the kingdom of God will be taken away from them and given to a nation producing the fruits of the kingdom (Matthew 21:33-44). The destruction of the temple (and city) also relates to this: it is a punishment for a long history of disobedience; Israel’s house is thus “forsaken” (Matthew 23:35-38).

    At the same time, Jesus could suggest a change in Israel at the end, when they will say “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:39). This also relates to Romans 9-11, where God still chooses a remnant of Israel who believe (and become part of Jesus’ international kingdom), and where after the full number of Gentiles come in (to Jesus’ kingdom), all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:25-26). Nevertheless, this salvation of a remnant now, and possibly of the majority of Jews at Jesus’ second coming, is a “grafting” back into the “tree” through faith (11:17-24). It does not depend on Israel being a nation; it depends on God’s kindness and mercy and election.

  4. Weatherly did a fine job, given the length of the article, in making his case without addressing Romans 9, 10, 11. I can only speculate as to why he chose to omit use of these chapters, but i suspect it is because they deal with the Jew and salvation, not the geopolitical state of Israel.

  5. I agree with Terry Clark. The amillennial replacement theology presented here is not reflected in Romans 9-11.

    It is true that Israel’s mission as God’s people has ended, but there is a future salvation where as a national entity she will be God’s blessing to the world under the Messiah’s rule.

    The Apostle Paul in Romans tells us that Israel is not defined as people genetically descendent from Abraham, but those who are faith (Romans 9:6-8). We Gentiles have been grafted in, while the unbelieving Israelites have been cut off. He then quotes Hosea (2:23 and 1:10) to reveal that God will have mercy how He wants and will call people His people according to His will. This means that the future nation of Israel that will bring blessings to the world under the rule of the Messiah will have both Jews and Gentiles involved.

    Paul also reminds us that there is currently a Remnant still faithful to God (Romans 11:5). He then looks forward to when “this mystery” will be complete: when Israel will return to Christ and be grafted back in (Romans 11:23-25). He states that in this way “all of Israel” will be saved. Paul quotes Isaiah 59:20-21 and 27:9 to tell us that the Deliverer” will come from Zion. This probably refers to Christ (in reference to 1 Thessalonians 1:10), suggesting that the Jews will be saved near or at the second coming.

    Right now, Israel is an enemy to the Gospel and the Church, but to God they are beloved (Romans 11:28-29). Why does God still love Israel and have a plan for them? “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.”

  6. the question is, in romans 9, who (or what) is israel? so i agree that god loves israel, and israel is all who are in christ.

  7. Neil understands correctly why this article doesn’t address Romans 9-11: I had already written 50% more than the editor had called for (thank you, Mark Taylor, for your gracious flexibility in granting me extra space), and the specific subject is not directly affected by which of the rival interpretations of that text that one takes.

    I would suggest that readers consider that in context, Romans 11:26 may well (I would say “very likely does”) refer not to a future, turning en masse of Jews to faith in Jesus but to the ongoing and ultimately final fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel through the salvation of the “olive tree” composed of both Jews and Gentiles. Such an understanding fits entirely the broader context of Romans 9-11 (see Romans 9:6), the entire setting and emphasis of Romans as a whole (the equal need of Jew and Gentile for grace through Christ), and the grand purpose for Israel announced in Genesis 12:3–the blessing of all nations.

    When Peter concludes from his experience with Cornelius that “God shows no partiality” (Acts 10:34), he speaks to the way that Christ fulfills the purpose that the God of all creation had for all nations in his calling of one nation. If we continue somehow to insist on a difference between peoples in God’s plan, are we denying this cardinal reality?

  8. Jon, I always enjoy reading your material, even if I disagree with you. God bless, Keep up good work.

  9. This was a very insightful article on modern Israel. As I read, I thought of this scripture in Matthew 3:9, Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones (NLT).

    I have heard the arguments of teachers and preachers who are pro-Israel because they believe that the Jewish people are God’s people right or wrong. I agree that there is only one way to become a child of God and that one way is by accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It does not matter if you are Jew or Gentile; Jesus is the only way to God and our only way to become sons of God.

  10. Thank you for printing the article on Israel by Jon Weatherly. I couldn’t agree more. I have always believed that Christ fulfilled the prophecies about Israel. Too many Christians fail to take a long hard look at what the New Testament teaches in this regard. Let’s not be influenced by denominational preachers that we hear over radio and TV.

  11. “Israel was not ‘replaced’ because it was defective. Rather, in Christ, God did what he intended to do: fulfill Israel’s promises as his incarnate Son assumed Israel’s role. Call this not a ‘replacement theology’ but ‘fulfillment theology.’”

    I believe the flaw in your argument is summed up in the quote above. To follow this line of reasoning seems to indicate that Christ is God’s plan after Israel proved to be inadequate; that God didn’t know how things were going to turn out following his promises to Israel.

    Rather, Christ is central to his promises to Israel. Everything in Israel’s history and worship is a type that points to Christ. Christ (Emmanuel) was in the heart of God before creation.

    If God’s promises to Israel are “transferred” rather than “fulfilled,” then His promises to us in Christ mean little. It is precisely because His promises to Israel are true and forever, as is his covenant with day and night, that we can trust in His promises to us in Christ. Israel’s ultimate hope is in Christ, as is ours, but Christ will fulfill all of God’s promises to them in the fullness of time.

    God has claimed to do this, not for their sake, but for His Name’s sake. He claims His reputation depends on His fulfillment of promises to Israel.

  12. Jesus fullfilled all on the cross. If the Jews expect to go to Heaven, they must be buried with their Lord in the waters of baptism and be added to the church like everyone else. Israel is just another country lost and going to Hell if its citizens are not obedient to God’s Word (see Romans 6:1-5; Galatians 3:26, 27; 1 Peter 3:20, 21). Paul prayed often for Isreal to obey God’s Word.

  13. Charles, I think that you’ve taken my article to say the opposite of what I intended it to say and how most other readers have understood it. The exact point that I’m making is that God did indeed know how things would turn out, that Israel’s purpose was to bring blessing to all nations through the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ and the preaching of the gospel.

    The point in calling this “fulfillment” rather than “replacement” is to emphasize that from the beginning, God had one plan.

  14. Thanks for the substantive article. I’ve often been troubled by folks claiming that America is the new Israel. These folks usually have a very limited view of God’s work all over the world, and Scripture.

    John, thanks for taking time to dialogue with others posting comments. I appreciate that.

  15. This is an important discussion to be having among the “restoration” churches, as our relative silence on the subject over the years has allowed characters with often questionable agendas and personal incentives to hijack the issue and apply it, by default, to all evangelicals.

    As a big fan of Israel that spends nearly all my time working with Arab evangelical churches in Israel, allow me to add a little real-worldliness to this issue from my perspective. And let me start with the surprise that some of you have in reading that there are Arab evangelical churches in Israel. The Western evangelical world has largely abandoned these brothers and sisters in Christ because — to the best that I can figure — there is no place for Arabs, and perhaps non-Jews, in the eschatology popularized and spread by the “Left Behind” assumptions.

    So the result is often to turn our backs on those that are not supposed to be there, or who don’t fit into our guesses about the future. However God’s plan is playing out (and I don’t claim to know any more, or less, about that than anyone else that studies such things) the reality on the ground is that Western evangelicals have a disgraceful history of turning their backs on brothers and sisters in Israel who worship the same Jesus. These generational Christians in the Holy Land are trying fervently to make disciples for Him in very difficult circumstances, and they are stepped-over by American Christian leaders and tourists in favor of politicians, secularists, and radical extremists who, at best, are yet to realize the Messiahship of that same Jesus. At worse they are laughing all the way to the bank with the money donated by Christian Zionists, money that is too often used to make life even worse for the evangelicals in the land — Evangelical Arabs and “Messianic” Jews alike. I keep asking myself if that pleases the Father of that same Jesus.

    The CHRISTIAN STANDARD rightly declined to publish my submission on this same subject, and am very glad they did because mine was way too emotional. Jon Weatherly’s article is excellent and long-overdue. But if you want to read my rant, it is here: http://chlf.org/FreeSamples/?p=1096. Thank you, Jon and CS!

  16. A longtime reader of Christian Standard (usually cover to cover) somewhat disturbed by article in August 5th issue with front cover emphasis “Is Modern Israel The Key To God’s Plan” and the conclusion of it’s author, a fellow Christian, being “No” as being representative of the Christian’s position in the matter. Certainly, this has nothing to do with our salvation which has been bought and paid for by our Lord Jesus Christ, and inasmuch as we believe “In Essentials Unity, In Non-essentials Liberty, and In All Things Love, the author has a right to his opinion BUT some of us believe the article should have been labeled as opinion or liberty.
    We believe all scripture contained in our Bible is God-breathed and Truth from Genesis thru Revelation but understand that it is of no private interpretation. It gives us the history of God’s people Israel, the wonderful account of Jesus and the directions for our living so our continued daily prayer will be for God’s people as we remember Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with promises and covenant with them as well as the New Covenant with Jesus as Lord and Savior of all His disciples. We will continue to look to the sky for King Jesus and to the east toward Jerusalem.

    Herman Bauman, Omaha, Nebraska

  17. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The author leaves out the book of Revelation because it invalidates his point. Shame on him.

  18. Over the past 2,000 years, among all the various theological errors that have crept into the Christian church, there is no question that replacement theology is one of the most widespread and, I would argue, perverse and vile. Replacement theology essentially holds that because (most) Jews rejected Jesus (Yahshua) as their Messiah, they were thus judged by God in 70 A.D., when their nation and Temple were destroyed. Since that time, replacement theologians argue, God has now replaced Israel with the church, transferring all of his previous promises and purposes from the Jewish people and nation to the entity known as the Christian church.

    The fruit of this belief system has been glaringly evident throughout church history. As demonstrated in the book, “Our Hands are Stained With Blood,” by Dr. Michael Brown, replacement theology was among the primary theological and ideological foundations of the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of roughly 150,000 Jews from Spain in 1492, the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the crusades and, ultimately, the Holocaust.

    But replacement theology is not only problematic because of the negative fruit it produces, but also because of the interpretive violence it inflicts onto hundreds of very clear biblical passages. Replacement theology looks to the blessings found throughout the Old Testament promised to Israel and “spiritually” applies them to the church. An open letter issued by Knox Theological Seminary in 2002, entitled, “The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel,” states, “The church of Jesus Christ, [is] the true Israel.” However, when replacement theologians read of any judgment against Israel in the Old Testament, they continue to apply these passages literally to Israel. Funny how that works, isn’t it? Replacement theology denies any future where Jesus will rule the earth from Zion. As the statement words it, “Furthermore, a day should not be anticipated in which Christ’s kingdom will manifest Jewish distinctives, whether by its location in ‘the land,’ by its constituency, or by its ceremonial institutions and practices.”

    When conservative Premillennialists look at the hermeneutical violence inflicted on hundreds of passages committed by these replacement theologians, we shudder to imagine how anyone could so radically reinterpret the Bible, often to mean the exact opposite of what it actually says. When they read “Israel” they spiritualize and universalize the term to mean “church.” When they read “Zion” or “Jerusalem,” they allegorize and universalize it to mean the “invisible Kingdom of God.” Virtually everything is reinterpreted into some vague, spiritualized, allegorized or universalized reality.

  19. Virulent opposition unleashed against “Replacement Theology” exposes an Israel-Church Distinctionist dogma that itself arises from a truly corrupt theology. It replaces Christ’s final and finished work for “the Israel of God” on the cross at Calvary with a yet-to-be-completed, future blessing for an Israel identified by race. This reproduces the ‘unfinished-Israel’ mindset of those who had rejected the prophesied Messiah for failing to provide them with a this-worldly King and a triumphal, national destiny on earth.

    Hatred of “Replacement Theology” ignores, moreover, the unambiguous ‘replacement’ taught by the Lord Jesus, Himself: “Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Matthew 21:43).” The Lord’s decree is amplified in His parable of replacement in Mark 12:1-11, where He says, “What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others (v..9).

    The point of Jon Weatherly’s excellent article, therefore, stands fast against the routine “Replacement” slur with all its ‘anti-semitic‘ accoutrements. The Lord Jesus replaced, in the most decisive and personal sense, a carnal, arrogant Ethnic-Israel with a global Israel who recognized that “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).” Contemporary Israel has no future because Old Testament Israel was fulfilled in Messiah Jesus and in His everlasting Gospel–a glorious, magnificent fact celebrated in the opening verses of the Hebrew letter to God’s Israel:

    “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,
    hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom
    also he made the worlds; who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person,
    and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down
    on the right hand of the Majesty on high.”

  20. God DID put conditions in place when He would withdraw His support for Israel as a nation:
    Jeremiah 31:33-37:
    So I just looked outside,the moon and stars are still shining. In a little while, the sun will be shining as well.
    I am watching the news about Hurricane Isaac approaching Florida, the waves ARE roaring!!!
    The foundations of the earth have not been searched out to the core….
    We have only made it as far as the moon,have not begun to measure the heavens….We have not gone out into the universe.
    The conditions God put in place to reject the descendants of Israel,and to have Israel cease to be a nation before Him, have NOT been met. Therefore God’s Promises, and His Blessings upon the Land of Israel, and His Still-Chosen People, the Jews, are still in effect, “For they are Beloved on account of the Patriarchs.” (Romans 11:28) God is not a LIAR who breaks His promises!
    Notice too, that this passage says that the New Covenant is not being made with gentiles, nor with a gentile church (vs. 33) (Jeremiah 31:31 & Hebrews 8:8)
    The New Covenant is being made with the people of Israel! (not gentiles!)
    In Acts 2:5-12 says that the 3000 who were saved at Pentecost (Shavuot) were ALL JEWS, not gentiles! (Verse 5) The early Jewish Believers were the remnant Paul spoke of in Romans 11:5
    The early “church” was all Jewish, not gentile! It was not until Acts 10-11 that Peter was surprised that God was saving gentiles too!
    It is only through being “Grafted In” that we gentiles are permitted to SHARE (not replace!!) in the Blessings that God has promised to Israel.
    Notice how the gentiles who become conceited and arrogant toward Israel WILL be cut off!!
    (Romans 11:vs 17-25)
    Those who are conceited and arrogant toward Israel, toward His Still-Chosen People, the Jews…
    Those that are promoting this satanic heresy of Replacement Theology (AKA “fulfillment theology”)
    right out of the depths of hell,WILL be cut off according to what God said!!
    How can those who promote Replacement Theology (AKA “fulfillment theology”) share in God’s Blessings and Promises to Israel if THEY have been cut off because of their conceit and arrogance to Israel?
    Romans 11 Verse 29 says that God’s gift, and His call are IRREVOCABLE!!! This means God cannot take back that He has chosen the Jews, and Israel, or else He is a LIAR!!! Those who promote Replacement Theology AKA “fulfillment theology” are calling God a LIAR and a PROMISE-BREAKER!!

    For God is still keeping His promise to Bless those who bless Israel,and to curse those who curse Israel. If God is not keeping this Promise, then He is a LIAR and those who promote Replacement Theology are saying that God is a LIAR and a Promise-Breaker! And if God can break His Promises that He made to the Jews, He can also break any promises the gentiles think He has made toward them!

    Romans 11 and Ezekiel 37 are in the process of being fulfilled right now. There are over 100 Messianic Jewish Congregations in Israel, filled with Saved, Born-Again, Jews who have been immersed and who follow their Jewish Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus’ actual Hebrew Name)
    There are Messianic Jewish Congregations all over the world, including one right here in Cincinnati.
    These are Jewish Believers who have not given up their Jewish heritage, they worship in Messianic Jewish Synagogues instead of gentile churches.

    If the Land of Israel is not important, why is Jesus returning to Jerusalem, to fight against her enemies, at His Return?

  21. Commenting on James S. Sandusky’s and Lucius Dawn’s comments…To “fulfill” does NOT mean it is abolished.
    It DOES mean that Jesus fulfilled it perfectly. He says Himself that He came not to abolish the Law
    but to fulfill it – Matthew 5:17
    Commentilg on Jon Weatherly’s comment regarding Romans 11:26….This is being fulfilled right now, everyday. Many many Jews are being born-again, becoming saved, being immersed and following Yeshua their own Jewish Messiah (Jesus). There are over 100 Messianic Jewish Congregations in Israel alone!
    There are Messianic Jewish Congregations all over the world, including one right here in Cincinnati. Every day more and more Jews are being “grafted back” onto their OWN Olive Tree!! This proves that God DOES keep His Promises, Romans 11 is proof of this!

  22. In response to B.A. Gridd’s quoting of Matthew 21:43….
    We need to keep reading the Scriptures in order to see this quote in context:
    Matthew 21:43-
    43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. 44 Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.”
    45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them.
    46 They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.

    Notice in verse 45 that the chief priests and Pharisees, the religious leaders, KNEW that Jesus was talking about THEM. The parable was directed at the religious leaders, not the Jewish people in the crowd, because
    the Jewish people held that Jesus was a prophet.
    Ezekiel 34 tells us about these false shepherds.
    The followers of Jesus at this point were the Jewish ordinary people, not gentiles nor a gentile church.
    Gentiles did not start getting saved until Acts 10 & 11 when Peter was surprised that gentiles could be saved.

  23. 1. We also need to read the verses preceding, to understand the context. The Lord Jesus, in verse 42, quotes Psalm 118:22, “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner.” This captures the sense of John 1:11,12: “He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.” “His own” was not limited to a group of deceitful religious leaders, but to all Jewish unbelief within Israel. Paul, therefore, was enacting the “replacement” foretold by the Lord Jesus when, at the end of Acts, he said to his Jewish listeners: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it (28:28).”

    2. The religious leaders, as temple administrators, Torah experts and teaching authorities, were under special condemnation because of their hypocrisy and hatred for Christ. However, the secular population, “the Jewish ordinary people,” were not exempt from the Lord’s replacement decree. In Matthew 8, His response to the faithful Roman centurion conveys this:

    10 When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 11 And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    3. If “the parable [Mark 12:1-11] was directed at the religious leaders, not the Jewish people in the crowd,” then it would have meant nothing to “the religious leaders” who would die in their own generation without the Kingdom, and it would have meant nothing to “the Jewish people in the crowd” since, presumably, it wasn’t even addressed to them. The parable does plainly teach the “replacement”of a Christ-rejecting people with an “elect” people who love Him.

    4. The idea that the general, Jewish population, unlike their bad leaders, lived in Jesus-following innocence, is a myth. Scripture records the guilt of the whole nation: “Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children (Matthew 27:25).” All were held accountable for the death of the Lord Jesus: “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole (Acts 4:10).” The destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 was borne by “all.”

  24. Jews DID receive Him….It included His Disciples,those crowds who followed Him, His mother, the women who stood at the foot of the cross, the 120 in the upper room, the 3000 who were saved on the day of Shavuot, and many many other Jewish Believers.
    The early, New Testament church was not comprised of Gentiles…They were Jewish! The Believers that
    Saul AKA Paul hunted down were Jewish, not gentile!
    Matthew 21:45 reveals that the religious leaders KNEW that He was talking about THEM! It reveals that “the people” (who were Jewish) held that Jesus was a prophet. the preceding verses does not change that it was the religious LEADERS that Jesus was talking about.
    If God has rejected His Jewish people because some (even most) have rejected Jesus, then He must also use the same principle on the gentiles, for most gentiles have also rejected Jesus.
    Under this logic God has to reject gentiles as well.
    However, Romans 11 does not bear this out:
    Romans 11:1-2
    1 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.

    Paul does go on to explain that while SOME Jewish branches were removed from the Jewish Olive Tree, (SOME indicates that there were “Some” Jewish branches who remained!) Paul explains that gentiles, the “wild olive branches” are grafted in amongst the Jewish branches,( the natural branches) to SHARE in the Blessings of the promises that were given to Abraham. Notice they are SHARING in the promises, not replacing them.
    This would be like a family that has natural biological children who decide to adopt more children into the family. Do these non-biological children replace the natural children? Are the natural children then dis-inherited in favor of the adopted children? God said that He disciplines Israel because Israel is His son:
    (Exodus 4:22 & Hebrews 12:7-8)

    Paul warns the gentiles in Romans 11:13-22 NOT to become conceited and arrogant towards Israel:
    13 I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles,14 in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15 For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?16 If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
    17 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
    18 do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
    19 You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.”
    20 Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble.
    21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
    22 Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
    Jeremiah 31:35-37 tells us that the sun, moon and stars have to stop shining, the seas have to stop roaring, and the heavens can be measured, and the depths of the earth have to be searched out before He will cause the descendents of Israel to cease to be a nation before Him.

    It is appalling that you brought up Matthew 27:25 to justify your position….this has been used throughout the last 2000 years to justify the horrors that the gentile “church” has inflicted upon the Jews.
    The courtyard of Pilate held at most about 100 people …most of these were Passover visitors who were stirred up by the religious leaders. The rest (majority)of the Jews who were not in that courtyard were not part of what was going on, many were scattered throughout the other nations and did not even hear about the crucifixion until afterwards. Yet this has been brought up time after time to justify Replacement Theology..
    I knew a dear old Jewish Polish man who had been a survivor of the Holocaust…he endured having his entire family murdered by Nazis, he endured unbelievable horrors in the concentration camp….he showed me the Nazi tattoo on his arm, the indentation on his skull from a Nazi rifle butt, the twisted scar on his stomach from a Nazi bayonet. He said that when he finally survived the war, and came to America, he was taunted by American “Christians” who called him a “Christ-killer!!” this dear man, after all of this treatment by American “Christians”, found Yeshua (Jesus) as his Jewish Messiah, becoming a saved, born-again Messianic Jew.

  25. It is appalling that you believe Christ’s Replacement decree (Matthew 17:25) was NOT addressed to the nation of Israel.

    It is appalling that my reference to the passage drives you to slur the church of God,“which he hath purchased with his own blood (Acts 20:28).”

    You reject His condemnation of a people who “received Him not,” even though their national dysfunction is confirmed in Paul’s citation of Isaiah, “But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people (Romans 10:21).”

    The Scripture isn’t referring here to a minority of hate-ridden, religious leaders, but to a nation that thought their traditions and bloodlines would save them. Multitudes of Christians, today, share their arrogant belief in the eternal, unconditional sanctity of a Jewish pedigree.

    A “dear old Jewish Polish man” in Christ Jesus is indistinguishable from any ‘dear old Gentile Chinese man’ in Christ Jesus. That’s not anti-Semitic, Replacement theology speaking–it’s the wondrous fact embedded in the inerrant Word of God and in the everlasting Gospel,

    “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us (Ephesians 2:13,14).”

  26. After seeing (though not reading all) the plethora of responses to Mr. Caldwell’s assertions, I’m left with one personal observation. The New American Standard Bible, which I understand to be the most literal translation of Scripture, does not have Jesus announcing that He is the fulfillment of all Scripture, but that all Scripture about Him must be fulfilled. Huge difference and I think it has great bearing upon this whole discussion…

  27. This comment came to us through the mail:

    I enjoyed reading the article by Jon Weatherly. I agree that the world was blessed by the promise to Abram & David through Jesus Christ. I do not see how this negates the promise to bless the nations that bless Israel (Genesis 12).
    Therefore, I do believe that modern Israel is A KEY to God’s plan.

  28. This comment came to us through the mail:

    I agree in much, but agree to disagree in some of his conclusions, What about Romans 11, Luke 21:21? These verses are a mystery to me, but appear to point to Israel now an into the future.

  29. Oops..my bad…and my apologies to Jon Weatherly, the author of the article to which I was referring…

  30. If national Israel is NOT a key to God’s plan, how do you explain the 144,000 from the specific tribes of Israel mentioned in Revelations? How do you explain the prophesies regarding Armegeddon where all the nations of the world will wage war on Israel? I see nothing wrong with saying that God still has plans for national Israel just as I see nothing wrong with saying that God has plans for Gentile Christians. Every party will have their part to play in the end. You know what.. I am not Jewish so I know I am not going to be part of the 144,000. Should I feel resentful about that? NO! I am God’s vessel. Let God decide where my path will lead.

    The replacement/fulfillment theology has been going on for a long time and it was a lot more prevalent before Israel became a nation again after world war II but I think the founding again should make everyone re-think these positions. The founding was the first step and I look forward to the day when national israel comes to accept Jesus as their messiah. It won’t be too much longer. Looking at Biblical prophesy is sometimes like reading a newspaper the way things are being fulfilled every day in these end times.

  31. Also, The author’s statement: ” Injustices and atrocities have been committed by and on all sides.” is extremely troubling to me. It strikes me as a politically correct equivocation but it is NOT the truth. Where is the author getting his information from, Al Jazeera? The truth, as was recently stated by Mitt Romney, is that if Palestinians wanted peace, they would have it. The Truth is that Palestinians do not WANT peace.

  32. I am not sure that it is necessary that we must ” insist on a difference between peoples in God’s plan” to believe, based on scriptural references, that God still has a specific and distinct interest in His Son’s blood relatives. Indeed, simply based on observations since 1948, it certainly appears that Isreal has had more than a little divine assistance. That assistance may be miniscule compared to what may be coming in the near future.

  33. The term “Replacement Theology” is often a caricature of the real theological position. Caricatures are a corruption of what a theology actually teaches to put it in a bad light instead of letting it speak for itself. Dr. Weatherly has given us a term that more aptly describes his position and I thank him for that. It was a brief article and we do not need to heap words of shame on him for not having the space to discuss every aspect of the question. I am sure he is able to discuss the concept of Israel in Revelation as well as in any other passage. I await with anticipation any future article he would write on the topic even though I know he holds a different millennial position than I do.

  34. Mr. Weatherly, this is such a dispiriting and misleading piece. Shame on you. I hope to never see your face in God’s future kingdom in His holy city, Jerusalem. You can worship your idols (your gods) wherever you wish. Jesus will tell you: I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.

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