I t’s funny how styles come and go. The horn-rimmed glasses my grandparents’ generation wore, and that my parents’ generation laughed at, are now in vogue with my generation. The bell bottoms and shag hairstyles my parents had, however, are a fashion “no-no” for most young people today.
Even within the church there are fads. The impact they have, however, is far greater than that of horn-rimmed glasses or shaggy hair. It affects not only the present, but eternity as well.
At one time, it was a given that evangelical Christians were supportive of Israel. Today, however, a new generation of evangelicals has arisen, which calls into question such support, due largely in part to the resurgence of Replacement Theology, a way of thinking that replaces the nation of Israel with the church in God’s plan.
Replacement Theology, though not held to by the predominantly Jewish church of the early first century, began creeping into the mainstream of church doctrine and practice early on in the church’s history. Unfortunately, this view is in vogue once again.
For example, in his 2004 message, “Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East,” John Piper, then pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, said, “Israel has broken covenant with her God and is living today in disobedience and unbelief …Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land…”
While Piper is correct in saying that Israel broke God’s covenant (the Mosaic and Land covenants) and is living in unbelief today, his statement that the modern State of Israel has no divine right to the land is unbiblical.
God has not destroyed Israel. In fact, He promised He never would (Jeremiah 31:35–36).
The Abrahamic Covenant, in which God gives the Land of Israel to Abraham and his descendants as an everlasting possession, is a unilateral, unconditional promise. That is, all the promises made in this covenant were made by God, and are therefore dependent upon the character of God, who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19). Not only that, God Himself showed Ezekiel that Israel would be back in the land in unbelief prior to her salvation (Ezekiel 37:1–28).
In their book, The Reduction of Christianity, Gary DeMar and Peter Leithart state, “In destroying Israel, Christ transferred the blessings of the kingdom from Israel to a new people, the Church.”
Of course, there is a problem with this statement: God has not destroyed Israel. In fact, He promised He never would (Jeremiah 31:35–36).
As with all systems of thought, there are consequences to these views.
In 2014, for example, The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) voted to divest from companies that assist in Israel’s “occupation” of biblical Judea/Samaria (the West Bank). While the rationale behind this decision was allegedly humanitarian in nature, the denial of the clear declarations made by God in Scripture betrays a fatal flaw in the theology of those who voted for the measure.
Not only does Replacement Theology lead to negative political action, it also hinders the witness of the church.
In Romans 1:16, Paul declares that the gospel is “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” But when a well-meaning believer seeks to tell his Jewish friend about his faith in Jesus, a wall goes up. It is a wall that’s bricks are labeled: “Christ-killer!” “forced baptism,” “Crusades,” “blood libels,” “Holocaust”.
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No matter what strain of Replacement Theology a person holds to, the end result is the same: God has no future, distinct plan for the nation of Israel, and the promises He made to the Jewish people of a literal, Jewish-centric kingdom in the land of Israel, will not be realized by national Israel, but by the church.
This view has proven to lead to persecution, Holocaust, political action against the Jewish state, and a major hindrance to the gospel.
As believers, we should be committed to keeping Jacob in his rightful, biblical place in God’s plan, and to speak out against all attempts to steal Jacob’s chair.