In my last post, I described how Israel broke their covenant with God and rejected Jesus as their Messiah. The result was that their nation was destroyed and they were driven from their homeland. Unfortunately, this has led many to assume that there is no future for Israel and that all God’s promises to the Jews have been transferred to the church. This is not a new heresy. It has influenced Christians throughout the ages. Even the great Martin Luther fell prey to it! In his pamphlet, Of the Jews and Their Lies, he wrote: “The Jews, surely rejected by God, are no longer his people, and neither is he any longer their God.” Like most heresies, this view rests on verses taken out of context like Romans 9:6, “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel,” and Galatians 3:7, “Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham.”
Today this heresy is known as Replacement Theology (the church has replaced Israel), and its danger is immense. The idea that Jews are Christ-killers and God no longer loves Israel has been a longstanding excuse for persecuting the Jews up to and including the Holocaust. Therefore, with anti-Semitism on the rise and the world hostile to Israel, we must know the truth and oppose this heresy which has grown popular in the seminaries and is espoused by respected teachers like Hank Hanegraaff, “The Bible Answer Man.” To equip you for this task, here are 3 reasons from Romans 11 why the church has not replaced Israel.
Reason #1: Israel’s unbelief has only been partial. Paul makes this point in Romans 11:1 where he insists, “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.” The truth is that while most Jews have historically rejected Jesus, many great Christians have been Jews. The 12 apostles were, as was Paul and as are many of the great Bible teachers today. My favorite seminary prof was the brilliant theologian, John Feinberg, from whom I chose to take 6 courses in theology. The point is, as verse 25 puts it, “blindness in part has happened to Israel.” But, then, that’s also true of us Gentiles. Take a poll of ambassadors to the United Nations representing all the countries of the world and you will find that the vast majority of them are also hostile to Jesus our Savior.
Reason #2: God’s promises to Israel have only been delayed, not rescinded. Speaking of Israel’s future, Paul insists in verse 29, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable.” Nor was Paul the only apostle to say this. In his second sermon in Acts 3:19-21, Peter said to the Jews gathered to hear him: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” Peter promised the Jews of his day that if they turned to Jesus, He would return from heaven and give them their long-awaited kingdom. However, Israel as a whole has not yet believed in Jesus. But one day they will! Romans 11:26 says one day “all Israel will be saved.” Why pray for that day? Because if Israel’s rejection of Jesus gave us Gentiles a chance to be born and believe, verse 15 asks, “what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?”
Reason #3: God has temporarily set aside the nation of Israel out of mercy to us Gentiles. Paul explains this in verses 17 to 24. He describes Israel as an olive tree planted by the Lord who, in His mercy toward us Gentiles, has used Israel’s unbelief as an opportunity to graft us wild olive branches into His tree. But that doesn’t mean His plans for the original tree (Israel) have ended. It means, as verse 25 puts it, “that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” God is giving everyone everywhere time to believe. But one day soon that window of opportunity will close and Israel will again be the recipients of God’s grace. Therefore, if you haven’t yet repented and turned to Jesus, I urge you to surrender your life to His Lordship today.
Next time our study, “Keep Your Eyes on Israel” will continue with a look at the “Supernatural Prophecies Being Fulfilled in Israel Today.” But don’t stop reading until you’ve watched this fascinating video clip of the amazing achievements by modern Israel in just 63 years of existence…