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Replacement Theology

Replacement theology says that because the Jewish people rejected Jesus, God has finished with them, and all the promises that were given to Israel are fulfilled through the church, which is now the new Israel. When the Scriptures mention Israel, they are reinterpreted to mean church, at least in the New Testament. There is never a mention in this theory of the curses also coming to the church – they are generally relegated to unfaithful Israel! According to this theology, the return of the Jews to the land and the creation of the nation of Israel have nothing to do with Bible prophecy. Much of Scripture must then be spiritualized with the literal sense being obscured. A rule of hermeneutics is that a text should be interpreted literally if it makes sense in the context of the passage. While there may be other levels of understanding, these should be secondary. The concept of covenant is the underlying reason why the popular, widespread theology of Replacement Theology is a false doctrine. (See article on Eternal Covenant)

The wrong doctrine of Replacement Theology has caused much damage and turned many in the church to hate and persecute the Jews and Israel. It has also put a blindfold over the eyes of many Christians as to what God is doing in the world today and the amazing miracles that He is performing in bringing the prophecies of old to pass – the restoration spoken of by the prophets mentioned in Acts 3:21. How the prophets longed to see the days when their words would be unveiled. We live in those days and the bulk of Christianity is asleep! What a clever ploy of Satan to hypnotise the mighty church of God into a coma so it does not recognize and support God’s plans and the world does not hear the message of the soon-coming King.

It is time to wake up! It is time to open our eyes and recognise the times in which we live. It is time to return to the Word of God and read the Scriptures that Jesus read as His Bible – the Old Testament. Read the prophets and see what is to come. Pray for Holy Spirit enlightenment. Let the sons of Issachar arise and speak.

… sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do ... I Chronicles 12:32

Romans 9-11

In Acts 18:2, we are told that the Emperor Claudius had expelled all the Jews (about 40,000) from Rome (in about 49 AD), and among them were Aquila and Priscilla, who came to live in Corinth. When Paul arrived to Corinth he stayed with them, and they travelled with him to Ephesus and became leaders and teachers in that church. In 54 AD, Claudius died and was succeeded by Nero, who invited the Jews back because business had not been so good since they had left!

The church in Rome had probably been started by Jewish returnees from Jerusalem present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10). Although Paul wrote his longest letter to them, he did not establish this congregation. As in all the original churches, the first leaders were Jewish. When the Jews were expelled, including Jewish believers like Aquila and Priscilla, the Gentile believers had to then take over the leadership. When the Jews returned, a problem arose. Do the Gentile leaders now step aside or remain? How do Jew and Gentile fit together in God’s eternal plan? Renowned Bible teacher, David Pawson, points out that this is the context of the book of Romans. This theme permeates the whole letter. Romans 9-11, which most preachers and teachers do not know what to do with and would rather skip over, become the key chapters to interpreting the whole of the letter.1

How does Paul answer this dilemma and show the place of both Jew and Gentile? He categorically says that God had not finished with the Jews.

I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Romans 11:1-2

God’s eternal covenants remain and will not be taken away.

From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. Romans 11:28-29

Do Jews need Jesus? Paul says,

What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; as it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” Romans 3:9-12

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

What does Paul say is the way out of this situation?

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:10

There is only one way of salvation for all mankind – through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus (Rom 10:9,13). It is by grace, not by works (Rom 10:6). Jesus is the goal of the law, which shows us our sin and need for a Saviour. Unfortunately today many churches have thrown out God’s law and do not preach about sin, so the world no longer sees its need for Jesus and wallows in its brokenness with no way out. This is not the gospel of the Kingdom of God. We only enter the Kingdom through repentance and humility.

What is God’s purpose for this hardness of heart that is within the Jewish people? It brought salvation to the Gentiles. God gave some of the Jews a spirit of stupor (v.8) so that the Gentiles may hear the good news.

But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfilment be! Romans 11:11b-12

God’s plan is that a remnant of Jews would take the good news to the Gentiles so that the Gentiles will then bring the message back to the rest of the Jews. When this cycle is complete, the times of the Gentiles will end and Jesus will return. The Gentiles’ task is to make the Jews jealous by their faith in the God of Israel.

The Olive Tree

Paul gives an illustration of the olive tree (a symbol of Israel) where wild olive branches are grafted into the native tree. The grafted branches receive their sap and life from the native tree, not vice versa. He brings a strong warning to the Gentile believers not to become arrogant:

Do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. Romans 11:18-21

replacement theologySadly, the church has not heeded this warning and the greatest barrier to the Jews receiving Jesus today is the appalling historical record of hatred and anti-Semitism of the church against the Jews. For those Jews coming to the Lord, a major factor is often that they have seen the love of Christ through the witness of those Christians who have bucked this trend. The true ‘ekklesia’ of God will have this revelation. The new Anzac army must understand and receive the love of God for His chosen people, the Jews. If you do not have this yet, then pray for it. This army cannot fulfil God’s plan without His love. Many are stumbling over this stone today because of ignorance or false teaching or the influence of the lies perpetrated by the world’s biased, anti-Israel, anti-God media.

The church must repent of arrogance and instead make the Jews jealous by our love for our Jewish Messiah.

We owe the Jewish people a great debt for being faithful custodians of the Word of God and for the message of salvation through their Messiah Jesus.

a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” Romans 11:25b-27

All Israel will be saved because it is the Word of God and He has made a covenant that He will not break. When this outpouring finally happens, it will lead to worldwide revival.

For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? Romans 11:15

God does not favour Jews or Gentiles. He wants one new man in Christ.

God’s answer to the question of Jew or Gentile is once again – neither. He wants one new man in Christ. The peace between Jew and Christian and Jew and Arab will only be found in Christ.

But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off [Gentiles] have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups [Jews and Gentiles] into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. Ephesians 2:13-16 (emphasis added)

Endnotes:

  1. Pawson, D., Unlocking the Bible, Harper Collins, London 2007, 1021-1022

Picture:

  1. Olive tree in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jill Curry