Following the May 14th US Embassy transfer to Jerusalem, and the subsequent Palestinian provocations at the Israeli-Gazan border, Israel has been under intense worldwide scrutiny, and has suffered exceptionally harsh criticism for essentially defending her borders and her innocent communities within. This criticism has come, as expected, from a wide cross section in the Muslim and Arab world, but also and especially in the West, from those within the mainstream of the Christian church.
These seem to be men and women who have bought wholly into the false doctrine of replacement theology, and they are quite cynically using this recent crisis to further their ultimate goal of delegitimising Israel.
This is an essential issue because there are many that stand on the fringes of Christianity who are confused and unsure over where they should stand on this issue. To be clear, as a Christian, where you stand on Israel is, I believe, an absolutely pivotal issue.
In my opinion, this is not even an issue about the Jews and whose land it actually is; it is much more important than that. At its heart, this is an issue that pertains to the integrity of God Himself.
At its core, this is an issue about trust; can we as Christians trust and take God at His word, or not? Simply put, does God lie? If the answer to that question is “no, God does not lie,” then one has to seriously ponder some of the positions professing Christians and Christian leaders have taken over the last week regarding Israel.
Israel is besieged all about, literally and metaphorically. Current issues over Israel’s recent use of force, and the perceived rights or wrongs of a US Embassy switch to Jerusalem, are now being used deceitfully and mixed up with replacement theology to further a clear anti-Israel agenda. To a great extent, this has always been so. But it should not be like this within the church.
Replacement theology is growing exponentially within our churches today. It the wholly unbiblical belief that the nation God once called the “apple of my eye” (Zechariah 2:8) has been replaced by the Church and that the current “entity” in the Middle East known as Israel is an unlawful, terrorist usurper of the innocent Palestinian people.
It is a lie spawned in the pit of hell. It is unbiblical; it’s demonstrably false and it is wrong.
I have actually read articles over the last week on mainstream Christian websites, not only bemoaning Israel generally but also openly questioning her legitimacy as a nation state. Tied into this, always subtly, is an insinuation that modern Christian advocates and supporters of Israel have to varying degrees “got it wrong” about Israel and her place in God’s order.
Some have even gone so far as to strongly suggest that the reason for God’s rejection of modern-day Israel is because of Israel’s past disobedience to God, and because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. This argument has been the classic basis of all true anti-Semitism for the last two thousand years, and has led to countless massacres, pogroms and holocausts because of it. Shamefully, we now find it commonplace in the mainstream Christian church.
If this is true, that Israel has been rejected because of her past disobedience and rejection of Jesus, then I say woe to the Church of today. Does our church today really look like an obedient one to you? Apostasy is rampant, as is compromise in all areas of life and seemingly at all levels of leadership, with one or two very notable exceptions. The Jesus taught in many pulpits today is a “different Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4) from the one originally taught by the apostles of Our Lord.
My question here is a simple one: If God so readily abandoned Israel for disobedience, then why today do we believe that God will not also abandon us for our own rampant corporate disobedience? Why will God not just raise up another people for Himself who will be obedient, as they preach that He has done with Israel?
I want to be clear. If you are a Christian, then the very basis of your faith should be the words of God Himself, as recorded in scripture. There should be no other basis for revelation outside the Bible. If this is the case, and we are being intellectually honest, then the only conclusion you can draw regarding Israel is an unequivocal one. The land currently occupied by Israel belongs to them alone.
But the Bible goes further. It also states that the land due to Israel extends far, far beyond her present borders, deep into Egypt and out into present-day Iraq.
The Bible clearly teaches that “God does not change” (Malachi 3:6). In preaching, or subtly suggesting that God has essentially abandoned Israel for the Church, the church of today has robbed itself of its own assurance of its own eternal security in God. If God abandoned Israel because of sin and disobedience, then we in the church are doomed because God is an impartial God “who does not change.” The same standards He applied to Israel will be applied to us also.
The reality is that God has not abandoned Israel at all, just like He will not abandon us. Instead, God has allowed Israel to “…experience a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.” (Romans 11:25). God has not forgotten about Israel. He is currently dealing with the Gentile world, and the signs all around us indicate strongly that this Gentile dispensation is about to come to an end.
After this, God will once again turn His full attention to dealing with the remnant of Israel, then finally “…all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26).
Israel’s future is irrevocably bound up in the character of God. When Christians question the future of Israel in God’s plans, believing God to have abandoned his once “holy inheritance,” they are actually bringing into question the integrity of God Himself. They are calling God a liar and exposing Him to public shame, because God promised the children of Israel,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
This issue, at its core, is a question about honesty. Is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob a God of integrity or not? Is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ true to his word or is He not? Essentially, is God a liar?
In Romans, the apostle Paul, who was taught through revelation by Jesus Christ Himself, wrote to his own people, the Jews, and addressed this question head on, “I say then, has God cast away his people?” (Romans 11:1). This exact statement has been suggested many times this past week.
Paul immediately and emphatically answers his own question in the very next sentence, “Certainly not!” The Greek translation of this term implies that this notion is so unthinkable and so unimaginable that it should not be something that even enters into our minds!
God has not finished with Israel, and yet has a great future for her. He made solemn, irrevocable covenants with Israel to back this up.
God has instituted no less than four separate Covenants with His people throughout time; The Abrahamic Covenant; the Land Covenant found in Deuteronomy; the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant, inaugurated by God’s son, Jesus. God keeps His covenants, and He made them expressly so that we who follow Him can know with certainty that we can trust Him.
Jesus Himself testifies to this truth,
“For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished” (Matthew 5:18).
The Abrahamic Covenant
Still in effect today, the Abrahamic Covenant was conferred on Abraham, Isaac and then onto Jacob, whose name God changed into Israel. On Israel’s deathbed, God subsequently conferred this covenant, and confirmed it, with each of Israel’s twelve children, who would later go on to become the twelve tribes of Israel.
There are two types of covenants in the Bible: conditional covenants and unconditional covenants. A conditional covenant is an agreement dependent on both parties for its fulfilment. If either party fails to meet its obligations, then the covenant is cancelled.
The Abrahamic covenant is not a conditional covenant. It is an unconditional covenant. An unconditional covenant is an agreement between two parties where only one of the parties has to do something. The Abrahamic Covenant is not dependent upon Abraham, but on God. Abraham had to do nothing to ensure its fulfillment; the obligation and responsibility rests alone with God.
The ceremony performed in Genesis 15 indicates the unconditional nature of this covenant. In Genesis 15, Abraham halved some dead animals; and God Himself, and alone, moved between the dead animals laid out on the floor. The smoking furnace and the flaming torch represent God, and God Himself put Abraham into a sleep so deep that he could not physically pass between the animals.
God was binding Himself to this agreement with Abraham. In effect, God was saying “…if I do not fulfill the exact terms of this agreement, then let what has happened to these dead animals happen to me!” God was staking His own life on its exact fulfilment.
This is one of the main reasons why Satan hates Israel and the Jews so much. If Satan can destroy the Jews and modern-day Israel, then he can prove God to be a covenant breaker. God, because of this covenant, would then be obliged by His own standards of holiness and justice to reap the consequences of this broken covenant.
In the Abrahamic Covenant, still in force today, God promised Abraham three main things: the land, descendants after him who would make a “great nation,” and the promise of blessings and ultimate redemption.
This covenant will receive its ultimate fulfilment in the Messianic Kingdom (Gen 12:1-3; 12:7; 13:14-17; 15:1-21; 17:1-21; 22:15-18). All other covenants in the Bible are based on the foundations laid by this one unconditional covenant.
The Land Covenant (found in Deuteronomy)
This covenant is crucial because it ensures Israel’s inheritance, despite their potential future unfaithfulness. This covenant guarantees Israel’s repentance and future restoration to the land in the millennial reign of the Messiah, a time now fast approaching (Deuteronomy 30:1-10).
The Davidic Covenant
The Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:8-16) is also an eternal covenant. It guarantees Israel an eternal King who will rule from David’s throne forever. Every Christian in the world today, including those who subscribe to replacement theology, prays for the fulfillment of this Davidic Covenant from their very first experiences in Christianity, most without recognizing it.
In Our Lord’s Prayer, the line “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven…”(Matt 6:10) is a direct and explicit reference from Jesus Christ of the time yet future when a descendant of David will sit on David’s throne and rule Israel and the world from Jerusalem. This did not happen during Christ’s first incarnation – in fact the opposite. Jesus was rejected and despised by Israel.
A time is coming soon when Jesus, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, will fulfill this statement. He will not come in meekness and humility like the first time, but in majesty and awesome power to sit on David’s throne where he will rule all the nations of this earth from Jerusalem. At this time, the name of Jerusalem itself will be even changed to “the throne of the Lord” (Jeremiah 3:7), reflecting the worldwide eminence of this great Jewish city.
Jesus, it also needs to be pointed out, when he returns will be returning as a racial King – a Jewish King, and he will rule all with a “rod of iron” from an eternal Jewish capital city. We Christians testify to this truth each and every Christmas when we send simple Christmas cards to one another inscribed with the famous biblical story,
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end’” (Luke 1:30-33).
This part of the verse never happened during Jesus’ first ministry. Its fulfillment relates to the time yet future when the Davidic Covenant, which is predicated upon the Land Covenant and in turn the Abrahamic Covenant, will be fulfilled.
A Jewish King ruling the world from a Jewish country. He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Messiah and the eternal King, Jesus.
The New Covenant
We all look forward to the time when,
“The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6).
This prophecy will become a reality in the millennial reign of Christ. The New Covenant, ushered in by the Son of God Himself, is crucial to the fulfillment of the other Covenants that find their own ultimate fulfillments in the Messianic Kingdom.
It is because of the New Covenant, paid for in the blood of Jesus Christ spilt on the Cross, that the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant, The Land Covenant and the Davidic Covenant are all possible. It all hinges upon God’s son, Jesus.
It is through this New Covenant and the blood shed by God’s Son that provision is made for Israel’s national forgiveness of sin, for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and complete regeneration based on the perfect substitutionary work of the Messiah who was slain for sin, (Lev 17:11; Jer 31:31-37; Ezek 36:24 – 28).
It is the same blood that brings us individually into relationship with God that will also bring the nation of Israel into relationship with the very same God we look too. The blood of Jesus saves all that look to Him for forgiveness, and Israel will soon look to their Messiah in repentance and faith,
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zechariah 12:10).
Our own salvation is intimately bound up with the salvation of Israel. It is the same blood that we claim as a propitiation for our own sins that will also provide the atonement for Israel’s national sin. To reject Israel’s future salvation is to therefore bring our own into doubt.
Our God is a faithful God, and He has sworn over and over again to deliver Israel, physically and spiritually. The attacks upon Israel’s legitimacy, intensifying over the last week, are essentially attacks upon the very nature and integrity of God.
God made an eternal covenant with Israel, and He staked His own life on fulfilling that covenant to Israel,
“I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God” (Genesis 17:7).
God does not change His mind, or revoke covenants because of disobedience:
“…the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Samuel 15:29).
God loves Israel:
“…and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written:
‘The deliverer will come from Zion;
he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this ismy covenant with them
when I take away their sins.’
“As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:26-29).
Do not believe the growing lie taught in many churches that modern-day Israel is of no consequence to God. It is a deception. The time is approaching when there will be no more confusion in anybody’s mind as to how important and beloved Israel really is to God.
But first, God declares that,
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves” (Zechariah 12:2-3).
The beginnings of this process are clearly upon us right now. God is soon once again going to deal with His “holy inheritance.” Time is short, so be about the Lord’s business whilst you still can.