What does God say about Israel’s future? If the New Testament teaches ethnic Israel has a future, then Replacement Theology is untrue.
While on Earth, Jesus established that He was premillennial—meaning He believed in a literal, future, restored Kingdom of God. In Matthew 6:9–10, He taught His followers to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Jesus instructed His followers to pray that God will bring or restore His Kingdom on Earth, and He described what Earth will be like when that occurs.
How is God’s will done in heaven? Precisely as He says. His will is absolute. If the church is the Kingdom of God, as Replacement theologians claim—or the Kingdom of God is here now—then what is done on Earth must mirror God’s will in heaven. That is an impossible stretch even for the most generous mind.
According to the New Testament, the nation of Israel and the Promised Land are vital to God establishing His restored Kingdom on Earth. The Bible teaches that Jesus fulfills the Davidic Covenant that guarantees a descendant of David will sit on David’s throne in Israel forever. The Hebrew Scriptures teach the Messiah will rule over Israel and the Gentile nations from His throne in Jerusalem (Isa. 9:6– 7; 11:1–12; Jer. 23:5–8; 33:14–16).
To date, these prophecies have not been fulfilled. But Jesus said, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Mt. 19:28). Jesus spoke those words in response to the apostle Peter’s concern about the disciples’ future. Jesus told them that someday, they each will sit on a throne ruling the tribes of Israel. Jesus certainly saw a future for ethnic Israel.
But the verse reveals more. The title Son of Man refers to Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus said He will sit on the throne of His glory, a throne that will bring Him honor. Nowhere does Scripture say He sits on a throne in heaven. Rather, it teaches that He is seated at the right hand of the Father’s throne. The throne of Christ’s glory is earthly. It will be located in Jerusalem where He will rule over Israel and the world. Jesus did not ascend to that throne at His First Coming. Thus, if He is to be faithful to His words, He must yet sit on His throne in Jerusalem.
Jesus explained when that event will occur: in the “regeneration.” The Greek word translated “regeneration” is a compound made up of two Greek words: palin and genesia. Palin literally means “back again” or “back to a previous time.” Genesia is the word for genesis, “in the beginning.”
The Old Testament prophets taught the Messiah will restore God’s Kingdom to Earth and transform Earth to its pre-fall condition. No more disasters, disease, sickness, deformities, hard labor, thorns and thistles, pollution, wild nature in animals, injustice, or war. Thus Jesus said He will sit on His throne when Earth is restored to its condition as in the beginning—the restored Kingdom of God on Earth.
When the apostles saw Christ prior to His return to heaven, they asked, “Will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). Obviously, they fully believed Jesus will restore the Kingdom to Earth and that Israel will be central to the process. Jesus did not correct their belief that He will restore the Kingdom to Israel. He simply replied that it was not for them to know the timing of God’s plan to do so; their concern should be to get busy building His church.
A mere two chapters later, Peter used the teaching of the restored Kingdom to preach salvation to the Jewish people from Solomon’s porch on the Temple Mount. The location would have ensured his listeners were Jewish. But he also addressed them in Acts 3:12–18 as those who denied Christ before Pilate and chose a murderer over Him. What Peter shared next revealed he, too, was premillennial.
Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began (vv. 19–21).
Peter laid out an eschatological order for Israel. The nation’s repentance will lead God to blot out its sins; Christ will return, and then the times of refreshing will come from God when He restores the Kingdom. Peter didn’t teach Replacement Theology. Rather, he taught that God has a unique program for Israel that is key to God restoring His Kingdom on Earth.
Paul also taught this truth: “Has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” (Rom. 11:1). It is obvious from the context of Romans 11:1–2 that Paul was asked if God had cast Israel away. His response was clear: Certainly not! In fact, he declared, “And so all Israel will be saved” (v. 26). Then he quoted from Psalm 14 and Isaiah 59 that God will honor His covenant and remove the Jewish people’s sins.
In Romans 11:29, Paul reminded us, “The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Irrevocable means God will not cancel or retract His gifts or call. He Himself is the One who made the covenants with Israel. He is the One who told the people of Israel the covenants are everlasting. He is the One who remembers His covenants with Israel, and He is the One who keeps them.
Israel’s coming national reconciliation, Christ’s return, and the restoration of God’s Kingdom on Earth do not depend on anything the Jewish people have or have not done. They depend solely on God’s faithfulness to keep His irrevocable promises. According to Ezekiel 36, God will keep His promises for His name’s sake so that His name will be exalted above every name on Earth, under the earth, and in the heavens.
For Replacement Theology to be valid, God must teach it clearly in His Word. However, nowhere does the Bible teach God has rejected Israel or replaced it with the church. Nor does it say the church is the historic continuation of Old Testament Israel or that all of the covenant promises have been taken from Israel and given to the church.
What the New Testament does teach is that Israel has a grand future in God’s plan, although Israel’s role is distinct and different from God’s plan for the church. And without a future for Israel, there will be no glorious future Kingdom of God on Earth.