To believe God has rejected Israel is to deny reality
Forgive me for the frank title, but in this instance, it is accurate. Replacement theology is the belief that:
the Jewish rejection of Jesus resulted in God rejecting Israel in favor of the Church. The Church is the new Israel and the old Israel is simply cursed. All of the promises in the Old Testament to Israel are now to the Church, while the curses remain the property of the Jewish people.
This became official church doctrine by the fourth century, but was popular by the year 150 through the writings of Justin Martyr, where he referred to the Church as the “True Israel.” Shockingly, the root of this demonic doctrine began to grow a mere 19 years after the resurrection. (Read more about that here). It is why Paul wrote such a strong caution in Romans 11, warning the Romans of the consequences of turning against Israel.
“For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. 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.” (Rom. 11:21-22)
For the next 1,818 years, the Jews wandered the globe without a nation. Having passed through persecutions, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Crusades, and ultimately, the Holocaust, indeed, one could have made a strong case that the Jewish people were cursed—that God was finished with them.
The Comeback Kid
There is a theological theme that we see over and over again throughout the Bible. You can see it in the life of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David, and even Yeshua. When God promises something there is always a moment where it appears that it cannot come to pass. It is over. Abraham was promised his son that never came. Josef was promised to become a great leader but was wallowing in jail. David was going to be a king but was running for his life for over a decade. And Yeshua, he was called to be the Saviour of the world and the enemy had Him nailed to a tree.
In every one of those instances, God ultimately came through. The classic example would be the children of Israel at the Red Sea. When it comes to the promises of God there is no such thing as defeat. And it is the same with the people of Israel. Indeed, we were 1,818 years without a country. Our language was dead, only preserved in the Bible and Jewish prayer books. No one spoke Hebrew as an everyday language in the late 1800s.
But then, God began to act and the Jews began to return to the eternal homeland. So many prophecies were fulfilled in the last 150 years regarding the Jews, that one must be blind, dumb, or intellectually dishonest to believe that God has replaced Israel with the Church or that Israel is forever cursed.
Here we are, nearly 2,000 years later, with Israel restored and Jerusalem as her capital. You really have to disconnect yourself from modern history to still embrace Replacement Theology. That would mean that by massive coincidence, Israel was rebirthed in 1948, Jerusalem was restored through the miraculous victory in the Six-Day-War, millions of Jewish exiles came back to Zion just as the prophets predicted, and all this while being the most persecuted people in world history, having suffered 52 attempted genocides.
No nation has ever lost its geographical homeland for more than a short time and remained an identifiable people. Israel wandered for two millennia and survived! Only God could have done that. The very fact that these Jewish fingers can type on this keyboard is proof that God has been faithful to His promises.
Let’s just look at a few of the dozens of prophecies regarding Israel’s restoration and see if they’ve come to pass.
“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24)
Immigration of Jewish people, en masse, began in 1882. Since then, millions of Jews have made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel).
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…” (Isaiah 43:5-6, 21)
From the east, they came back from Yemen, Iran, and Iraq. From the south, they returned from Egypt, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. From the west, they poured in from former Nazi-occupied Europe, Morocco, Algeria, and the Americas. From the north…we will get there.
“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” (Is. 66:8)
In one day, May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation. This year* marks her 70th anniversary. Never has a “dead” nation come back to life after 2,000 years of exile.
“ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.’” (Zech. 7-8)
Jerusalem was restored in 1967. According to this prophecy, God would be the One who does this. I understand that some don’t like the idea of a restored Jewish Jerusalem. Certainly not the U.N. But, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’” (Is. 45:9) The answer is ‘no’, by the way.
“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” (Jer. 16:14-15)
In 1991, the Iron Curtain came down and over 1,000,000 Russian-speaking Jews poured into Israel from “the land of the north.” While Jeremiah probably thought he was prophesying about Babylon, and he was, it is what we call a dual fulfillment prophecy. There was a minor fulfillment 2,500 years ago, but the major fulfillment was in our lifetime. The Exodus from Babylon was small in comparison to Egypt. But the collapse of the Soviet Union in one day, which led to the mass Aliyah of the Russian-speaking Jews, was a moment in history that will never be forgotten.
“[After I bring you back] I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36:25-27) “For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
The prophets predicted that after Israel went through a long season without a government or Temple, and after God brought them back to their own country, they would have a spiritual awakening and embrace the Messiah (David was long dead and buried, but as Peter tells us in Acts 2:29ff, prophecies about David after his death refer to Yeshua.) Today, there are more Jewish believers in Jesus than ever before, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. In Israel, there are over 150 Messianic congregations and growing.
You’re Not Dumb!
Come on. These are just a few of the prophecies regarding Israel that have come to pass. I did not even mention Isaiah 35: 1, which speaks of the desert blossoming like a rose (Israel exports roses from the Negev Desert). Nor did I mention Genesis 12:3, which tells us that Israel will be a blessing to the world (you can’t use your iPhone, instant messaging, or go to the doctor without encountering Israeli technology). Clearly, you can see with your own eyes that God is not finished with Israel.
Yes, in the Middle Ages it did look like much of Replacement Theology was right. But God cannot lie or break a promise, and for 2000 years, He watched over His word and now He is bringing the prophecies to pass.
In the Hebrew language, the number 18 means life. It was exactly 1,818 years from the time Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem until the time of her rebirth.
Coincidence? I think not.
*Originally published on January 19, 2018