Replacement Theology: It’s Not True – Part 1
By Steven J. Hogan
Throughout church history there’s been a great and intense debate about the place, purpose and future of the Jews. There have been many people, both Christians and non-Christians, who have said that there’s absolutely no future for national Israel, for the ethnic Jews. They say that many of the Old Testament promises regarding Israel’s future are no longer valid, and that the church has replaced national Israel when it comes to God’s future plans for this world. They would say that these promises that were for the Jews will be fulfilled by the church.
This is incorrect, this is an error, this is not what God’s word says, and this error needs to be addressed and refuted, and especially so in these days, for we now live in the end times. And we know this because the Jews have miraculously been regathering to their land, and we can clearly see that God is directly dealing with them. This then is the time when we need to know what God says about the future of the Jews and, of course, about the future of the church as well.
A common name for this error is Replacement Theology. This name is used because the adherents of this false view believe that the church has replaced Israel as the recipients of many Old Testament promises, that God’s promises for the Jews have been nullified and transferred to the church. Of course there are variances in the beliefs of those who hold this view, depending on their interpretation of specific Old and New Testament prophecies.
This thinking that God canceled His plans for the Jews began during the first few hundred years of the church age. It started out as a wrong attitude towards the Jews, for “they killed Christ”, and this resulted in a growing anti-Semitism in the hearts of many Gentiles. But something else was taking place in the early church, and this was that some Christian leaders, like Origen and Augustine, were beginning to allegorically interpret the Bible. This non-literal and figurative interpretation of the Bible led them to reformulate these Old Testament promises that were for the Jews and then transfer them to the church. There was then the motive for the Gentile’s opposition to the Jews – “they killed Christ”; and now they thought, the revision of these Old Testament promises would be the means to exclude the Jews from being the recipients of them.
This opposition to the Jews continued through the centuries, primarily being promoted by the Catholic Church. David Ettinger, in his article (Zion’s Fire magazine; May-June 2013) entitled Replacement Theology: Disdaining God’s Character said this, “Tragically, centuries later, the Reformers of the 16th century embraced Augustine’s allegorical views of prophecy and subsequent condemnation of the Jewish people.” Ettinger goes on to say, “Sadly, this mindset has carried on through the centuries. Subsequently, most of today’s mainline denominations trace their origins back to the Reformation, erroneously adhering to the Augustinian / Reformist view of Israel and the Jewish people.” This is no doubt true, and you see this with the World Council of Churches, and with many denominations – Catholics, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and Lutherans, as well as thousands of other independent Protestant churches.
These adherents of Replacement Theology would say that these promises, these covenants for the Jews are invalid, are null and void. They would say that they no longer pertain to the Jews, and are now for the church, for the new Israel. Most of the followers of this “Replacement” type thinking also say the following:
– They say that there’s no Biblically promised future for Jerusalem or for the nation of Israel.
– They say that when the New Testament speaks of the kingdom of God it is only speaking of the kingdom in the heart of a man, and not the kingdom that will be established on this earth by Jesus Christ.
– They say that 1000 years does not mean 1000 years. (Revelation 20). They say that there will be no millennial kingdom, that is, a 1000 year period when Jesus Christ will reign over the world. Those who believe this view are often called A-millennialists.
– Many say that Christ already came the 2nd time, this taking place in 70AD at the time when Israel was ransacked, and when close to one million Jews were killed. They say this was not a physical coming of Christ but a spiritual coming. Those who believe this are called Preterists.
– They say that Christ now reigns over the world, that the transfer of power from the devil to Christ has already occurred (Revelation 11:15), and that it took place in 70AD.
– Some say the church will greatly influence this world, and so much so that this world will become an increasingly righteous place, and then Jesus Christ will physically return. This is often called Dominion Theology, and this too is error.
– There are those who say that many of the Old and New Testament references that use the word Israel now refer to the church. God’s blessing, they say, will not come through the Jews, but that the church is the means by which blessing will come to the world both now and forever.
This teaching that disregards God’s promises for the Jews is not found in the Bible, and so it is not true, it is false, it is error. It needs to be corrected and refuted, and the truth about God’s future for the Jews need to taught and clearly understood, especially in these days of the end times. There are many different points that prove that God’s promises to the Jews are still true, and that they will be fulfilled in the future. My plan is to just list these different points today, and then to expound on them over the course of the next few weeks. They are as follows:
1. God’s character is holy – He didn’t change His mind about the Jews. Numbers 23:19
2. God’s word is true – He will fulfill His promises because He said so, He gave His word. Jeremiah 1:4
3. The sheer volume of Old Testament verses regarding God’s promises to the Jews proves that they are extremely important and unquestionably true. Psalms, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Zechariah, etc.
4. God never changed His mind about His promises to the Jews. Psalm 33:11-12
5. Jesus Christ never once voided God’s promises to the Jews. Luke 24:25, 44
6. Jesus Christ continually affirmed God’s promises to the Jews. Matthew 5:17
7. Jewish history during the church age, and in particular, the recent regathering of the Jews back to their homeland, proves that God’s promises are true. Luke 21:20-24
8. God’s work with the church in the end times is dependent on and in conjunction with His work with the Jews. Therefore, the Jewish promises need to be fulfilled. Matthew 24:9-26
9. The literal, face value interpretation of the Bible proves that God’s promises to the Jews are still valid. Isaiah 46:8-11
10. God’s promises to the Jews are true, and that’s because after the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, then a number of Jews will be saved. Romans 11
Let me conclude by sharing some of my favorite Old Testament verses on this subject, what I call “forever verses.” That is, in a verse that speaks about God’s promise to the Jews, the word forever is used. These “forever verses” are some of the clearest and strongest reasons why I believe that God’s promises to the Jews will come true – God gave His word that they would last forever, not just for a few years or even a few hundred years, but forever.
Genesis 13:14-15 – “The Lord said to Abram… ‘Now lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are… for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.’”
2 Samuel 7:16 – “Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.”
Psalm 33:11-12 – “The counsel of the Lord stands firm forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom He has chosen for His own inheritance.”
Psalm 37:29 – “The righteous will inherit the land and dwell in it forever.”
Psalm 72:19 – “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders, and blessed be His name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
Psalm 105:8 – “God has remembered His covenant forever, the word which He commanded to a thousand generations, the covenant which He made with Abraham.”
Psalm 111:9 – “He has sent redemption to His people; He has ordained His covenant forever. Holy and awesome is His name.”
Jeremiah 32:39-40 – “I will give them one heart and one way that they may fear Me always, for their own good and for the good of their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good…”
Ezekiel 37:25-26 – “They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob, my servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons forever; and David my servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them.”
Daniel 7:18 – “But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.”
Hosea 2:19 – “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in lovingkindness and compassion.”
Joel 3:20 – “But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem for all generations.”