Replacement Theology: It’s Not True – Part 2
By Steven J. Hogan
In the previous article I spoke about this great debate with regard to God’s plans for the Jews. Here is the issue: many people, believers and unbelievers, say there’s no future for national Israel, for the ethnic Jews. They say that many of God’s Old Testament promises for them are no longer valid, and that the church has replaced national Israel when it comes to His future plans for this world. But that’s not what God’s word says – this kind of thinking is wrong, is an error, and it needs to be addressed and refuted. God does not want there to be confusion on this issue. He wants there to be clarity, and especially in these days, for now that the Jews have come back to their land, we know we live in the end times.
A common name for this error is Replacement Theology. This name is used because those who hold this view believe the church has replaced Israel as the recipients of many Old Testament promises. It’s also called Covenant Theology, Dominion Theology or A-millennialism. Of course there are differences in their beliefs depending on how they interpret specific Bible verses. But the main thing they have in common is that they believe God’s promises for the Jews have been changed or nullified, and for the most part then have been transferred to the church.
Now there are many good arguments refuting this error, and proving the truth of God’s word with regard to the future of the Jews. My purpose, over the course of the next few weeks is to go over a number of them, hoping they help you see the validity and truthfulness of God’s gracious and eternal promises to the Jews.
1. The Word of God is at stake. The Old Testament is God’s word, and it is filled with promises to the Jews about their future. When reading the prophets, we often see the phrase, “The word of the Lord” (Jeremiah 1:4, 1:11, 1:14, 2:1, 2:4, for example). The word of the Lord is God’s word. God spoke to the prophets, and then they spoke God’s word. Now I’m not here to give reasons why God’s word is His word. But it is, and this truth that God’s word is His word and not man’s word should by itself weigh heavily on our mind as evidence that His word is not to be tampered with or be taken lightly, but is to be examined, studied and believed. This is true with regard to all of God’s word, and in this particular context, with respect to God’s prophetic word, for it is that which also concerns the church at this time. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues through all generations.” Psalm 119:89-90.
“I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure,’… Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11. What is the context of these verses? It is the salvation of Israel. “My salvation will not delay. And I will grant salvation in Zion, My glory for Israel.” Isaiah 46:13. All God’s promises to Israel will indeed be fulfilled.
2. The sheer volume of Old Testament verses regarding God’s promises to the Jews proves they are true. THE LAW: Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 13:14-16, Genesis 15:17-18, Genesis 17:2-8, Genesis 22:15-18, Genesis 26:2-5, Genesis 28:13-15, Genesis 32:12, Genesis 49:9-12; Exodus 2:24; Leviticus 26:42-45; Numbers 24:17-19, Numbers 25:12-13; Deuteronomy 4:31-40, Deuteronomy 7:6-9, Deuteronomy 33:26-29; Joshua 1:6-7; 1 Chronicles 17:10-14; Nehemiah 9:7-8. THE PSALMS: Psalm 2:6-9, Psalm 22, Psalm 33:10-12, Psalm 37, Psalm 45, Psalm 46, Psalm 47, Psalm 48, Psalm 67, Psalm 68:15-18, Psalm 68:28-35, Psalm 72, Psalm 89:20-36, Psalm 89:34-37, Psalm 96, Psalm 98, Psalm 99:1-3, Psalm 102:12-28, Psalm 105:8-11, Psalm 106:44-48, Psalm 110, Psalm 111, Psalm 115:9-18, Psalm 117, Psalm 122, Psalm 125, Psalm 130, Psalm 132:13-16, Psalm 136:21-22. THE PROPHETS: 2 Samuel 7:11-16, 2 Samuel 23:3-5; Isaiah 1:26-27, Isaiah 2:1-5, Isaiah 4:2-6, Isaiah 9:6-7, Isaiah 11:1-12, Isaiah 12:1-6, Isaiah 25:1-9, Isaiah 32:15-20, Isaiah 33:5-6, Isaiah 33:17-22, Isaiah 35:1-10, Isaiah 40:1-11, Isaiah 42:5-13, Isaiah 43;1-3, Isaiah 44:1-8, Isaiah 45:17-25, Isaiah 46:8-11, Isaiah 49:1-26, Isaiah 51:1-6, Isaiah 52:1-12, Isaiah 53, Isaiah 54:1-17, Isaiah 55:1-3, Isaiah 59:15-21, Isaiah 60:1-22, Isaiah 61:2-11, Isaiah 62:1-12, Isaiah 65:1-25, Isaiah 66:7-24; Jeremiah 3:16-17, Jeremiah 7:7, Jeremiah 16:14-15, Jeremiah 23:3-8, Jeremiah 30:1-24, Jeremiah 31:1-14, Jeremiah 31:31-38, Jeremiah 32:37-41, Jeremiah 32:6-44, Jeremiah 33:6-25, Jeremiah 50:4-5; Ezekiel 11:17-20, Ezekiel 16:60-63, Ezekiel 17:22-24; Ezekiel 20:40-41, Ezekiel 34:23-31, Ezekiel 36:1-38, Ezekiel 37:1-28, Ezekiel 38:1-23, Ezekiel 39:1-29, Ezekiel 40-48; Daniel 2:40-45, Daniel 7:28-27, Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel 11:36-45, Daniel 12:1-18; Hosea 1:10-11, 2:16-23, Hosea 3:5, Hosea 14:4-7; Joel 2:27-32, Joel 3:12-21; Amos 9:13-15; Obadiah 15-21; Micah 2:12-13, Micah 4:1-8, Micah 5:1-5, Micah 7:14-22; Habakkuk 2:14; Zephaniah 1:14-18, Zephaniah 3:14-17; Haggai 2:4-9, Haggai 2:21-23; Zechariah 1:14-17, Zechariah 2:1-12, Zechariah 3:8-10, Zechariah 4:11-14, Zechariah 6:12-13, Zechariah 8:1-23, Zechariah 9:9-17, Zechariah 10:1-12, Zechariah 12:1-14, Zechariah 13:1-9, Zechariah 14:1-21; Malachi 1:5, Malachi 11, Malachi 3:16-18, Malachi 4:1-6.
In this article we’re focusing on three specific and primary promises God made to the Jews regarding their future. These promises are also called covenants – there’s the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3 – the land), the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7:13-16 – the King), and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34 – salvation). God, through His spokesmen, has communicated these promises to the Jews. And in the Old Testament, we see that they are repeated again and again, being explained in great detail.
In one of my articles, “Hidden Treasure in the Old Testament”, I spoke extensively about these promises, these prophecies, these predictions regarding the Jews (listed above). It is imperative that you see the great volume of these verses. My rough count is that there are close to 1400 Old Testament verses relating directly to these three promises, and therefore to the future of Israel. It’s not that they are stated only three times in the Old Testament and never stated again – it is that they are restated, reproduced and repeated time and time again.
These three promises are the very word of God. That should be enough for you. But it is the enormous, overwhelming number of verses about these three promises that should be should be striking and shocking! You can’t help but see that it’s a tremendous weight of truth, irrefutable evidence, absolutely proving these promises to be true. This means they are very, very important, and are to never, in any way, be changed, disregarded, negated, nullified or overturned. Now If you think they are not true, then you need to clearly show that each one of them is not true, and that every one of them is not true. God’s prophetic Word is true, and it is all true, and it is always true, and these promises will be fulfilled, and sometime in the near future. God tells the truth. “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” Romans 3:4
3. God never changed His mind about His promises to the Jews. God made three major covenant promises to the Jews with regard to their land, their King and their salvation. As I just said, there are, in addition, hundreds and hundreds of auxiliary verses enhancing and explaining these promises. But where in the Bible does it say God changed His mind, that He went back on His word, that His truth is no longer truth? Where does it say this? You can’t find one single verse that counters God’s plan for the Jews and then reformulates it for the church.
O, I know that people who believe in this false theory of replacement theology have their little verses, but they do not at all stand up to the greatness and the entirety of God’s truth, the massive number of prophecies and promises that proclaim this truth. In fact, their little verses that they say change God’s promises do not change God’s promises at all. God Word is true and therefore counters any error, any bit of man’s wisdom that so weakly and impotently tries to come against it.
I’ve heard people make one sweeping statement that these promises aren’t true for the Jews, but are true for the church. But they are greatly mistaken, and let me say, foolish as well. They may have their thoughts on this subject, but do they have the mind of God, the word of God in their hearts? The word of God is the word of God, and it cannot and will not be changed or altered. Listen to what God says about the nation of Israel and their future. “The word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in faithfulness… 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 33:4, 11-12
4. Jesus never changed or nullified God’s promises to the Jews. Where in the gospels does it say that Jesus changed His mind with regard to these promises to the Jews? Give me one verse where Jesus Himself actually says that the Jews aren’t going to be the recipients of God’s promises to them? There aren’t any. You can’t find a single verse ever stated by Jesus where He negates and nullifies, or to even a small degree, alters God’s promises to the Jews. In fact, you can’t find any verse in the entire New Testament. If Jesus didn’t change His mind about these promises, then why should we or anyone else exchange God’s truth for a lie, saying they’re different from how they were originally given to Abraham, David and Jeremiah, and to all the prophets, and to all the Jews.
5. Jesus Christ affirmed the truth of God’s covenant promises to the Jews about their future. In the gospels Christ regularly confirmed that the promises made to the Jews were true and still valid. Let me give you some examples of this:
a. Acts 1:3-10. “He also presented Himself to them alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of things concerning the kingdom of God… When they (apostles) had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He (Jesus) said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” (Acts 1:3, 6-7). In this passage Jesus is telling the disciples that He will set up His kingdom in the future, but in the meantime, they need to carry out the great commission, they need to preach the gospel to the “remotest part of the earth.” Then He will come back in the same way that He left them.
In verse 3 we understand that Jesus had been talking to His disciples for forty days about the coming kingdom. In that verse it doesn’t explicitly say that it was the future kingdom on earth, but verse 6 makes it clear that it was implied, for here the disciples are talking about the future kingdom for Israel. This was what was on their mind at that time. It was also on their mind when they had previously asked Jesus about “the sign of your coming and of the end of the age.” (Matthew 24:3). It is also clearly talked about in Acts 3:20-21, when Peter says, “and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” There is no question that the Jews in the time of Jesus were looking forward to His kingdom being set up on earth.
But back to Acts 1, what is Jesus’s answer? He never denies there’s a future kingdom for Israel, but rather affirms it by saying that they are not to know when it will be appearing. It’s like He’s saying, “It’s going to happen, but I’m not going to tell you when. And in the meantime you got some work to do.” And then right after Jesus ascends into heaven, two angels appear, telling the disciples that Jesus will be returning to earth – and why? Of course, to set up His kingdom on earth. This is what the disciples had been talking about, this is what Jesus had been talking about, and this is what He was going to do. Surely Jesus was not deceptive, was not lying to them, was not misleading them. And surely He wasn’t saying that all the promises to the Jews were now being transferred to the church, but in fact, He was making it clear that the promises were true, that they were the same as they had always been. In these verses in Acts 1, Jesus is affirming the truth of His future kingdom on earth, but before His return, He wanted His disciples to know that they were to be reaching out to the entire world with the good news, His gospel message.
b. Luke 19:12-27. “A nobleman went to distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.” In this parable Jesus illustrates how He will be leaving His disciples, but then will be coming back to set up His kingdom on earth. And in the meantime, (that is, during this church age), they are to be faithfully serving their master.
In this parable, we read that a nobleman, referring to Christ, was going away to receive a kingdom for himself. In fact, this is how it worked back in the days of the Romans with those who wanted to be a ruler over Israel. A person had to go to Rome to get the authority to be a ruler. Jesus then was going away, was going to heaven, and would then come back and establish His kingdom on earth. Now verse 13 tells us that they were to “Do business with this until I come back.” They were to faithfully use their minas, the money the nobleman had given them, until he came back. And so too we are to use our abilities, our gifts, our money in serving the Lord during this church age, until He comes back. Not only that, but note the commendation given in verse 17. Some of the slaves had been faithful with what He had given them, and therefore they would be given authority over a number of cities. Surely this is in reference to the future kingdom on earth when Jesus will be reigning, and when we will be reigning with Him. Again we see Jesus affirming God’s promises for the Jews, that He would come back, and then set up His kingdom on earth.
c. Matthew 19:27-28. “Truly, I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel.” In this passage Jesus talks about the future kingdom when He’ll be reigning on the earth, and His disciples will then be rewarded by reigning with Him.
Peter was talking about how he and the other disciples had been following the Lord during their time with Him on earth, but this is for all of us who are serving Him during this church age. The disciples wanted to know their reward, the benefits of being His disciples. Jesus then tells them about the future, the “regeneration”, and this is not referring to a spiritual rebirth, but a physical rebirth – it is referring to the “restoration of all things” spoken of in Acts 3:21. This is referring to the millennial kingdom. We go on to read that Jesus will be sitting on His glorious throne, which is of course, referring to His earthly throne in Jerusalem, and His reign on earth during the coming kingdom age. In Vines Dictionary (Regeneration – page 260), we read, “This restitution will not, in the coming Millennial age, be universally a return to the pristine condition of Edenic innocence previous to the Fall, but it will fulfill the establishment of God’s covenant with Abraham concerning his descendants, a veritable rebirth of the nations, involving the peace and prosperity of the Gentiles.” Once again, Jesus is speaking about His future kingdom, when He will be reigning over the earth, and when they, and all true believers will be reigning with Him. (Revelation 5:10, 20:6)
d. Matthew 23:37-39. “For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.’” In this passage Jesus is making it clear that He is leaving Israel, that Jerusalem will be desolate, but that He is coming back again for the Jews, for those who receive Him as Lord and King, and then He will set up His Kingdom on earth.
Jesus knows that His earthly ministry is coming to an end, that His death on the cross is but a few days away. What is He then saying to the Jews and to us? He wants us to know that His desire had been to gather the Jews, to be their “mother hen”, to be their King. And then He speaks of their rejection of Him, but it is not just that He would be rejected, but that He would be killed, just like many prophets in the past had been killed. Yes, Jesus knows He is leaving, but He doesn’t want to leave, yet He also knows it is part of God’s sovereign plan.
With much emotion, Jesus goes on to tell them that Jerusalem will be desolate, will be left all alone, for He won’t be with them anymore. Jesus wanted to be with them – He loved them, He felt a deep compassion for them, but for the most part, they didn’t love Him, and so He had no choice but to leave them. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus repeatedly warns the Jews of this upcoming destruction and desolation of Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44, 21:20-44, 23:27-31). But again we know this is part of God’s overall plan, that the Jews would be scattered, but then later, in the end times, they would be regathered to Israel.
Now we come to this clear promise from Jesus to the Jews about their glorious future, one that connects us with many of God’s Old Testament promises to the Jews. Jesus isn’t saying here that “if” you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” He is saying “until” you say…. “Blessed is He…” The word “until” is a timing word meaning that the Jews would not see Him before they say, “Blessed is He…” This is important to see this, to understand this, to realize that Jesus was reaffirming to the Jews, and to us, that He’d be coming back in the future, and that would take place when the Jews would be saying this, when they’d receive Him as Lord and Savior. And then He’d reign as King over them and over the world.
e. Luke 24:25 – “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” This is one of my favorite passages proving that Jesus never changed His mind or His Father’s mind with regards to the promises God had made to the Jews, but that He actually affirmed them. The key for them and for us is “to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.” (Emphasis is mine)
These two men are on this road to Emmaus and Jesus joins up with them. He goes on to tell them that they are foolish because they aren’t believing all that the prophets had spoken about Himself. In Jesus’ time with these disciples, He wasn’t pressing the delete key with regard to the Jewish promises. He didn’t say they were being reformulated for the church. He wasn’t saying, “You Jews rejected Me, and now I am done with you.” He was saying that you need to believe “all that the prophets have spoken.” (Emphasis is mine.)
The gospels make it very clear that the Jews wanted Jesus to be their physical King over Israel – they understood the promises that spoke of the future kingdom when the Messiah would reign over Israel and the entire earth. They had heard it repeatedly and rightly taught in the synagogues over the years. But there’s no doubt Jesus was wanting them to also know He was the Savior, the Messiah, the One to die for their sins, and then be resurrected. I can’t help but think that He used Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and Psalm 16, and many other passages, to show and prove these things. But the point I want to make is that He used the word “all” in reference to what the prophets had spoken. Jesus wanted them to understand “all” that the prophets had spoken, whether it related to His suffering or His glory (1 Peter 1). Jesus was telling them that He would have to suffer as a Savior, and then He would reign as King.
Jesus was reaffirming the truth of the Jewish promises that showed Him to be Savior, Lord, Judge and King. O, might we not be foolish and slow of heart to believe “all that the prophets have spoken”. Might we believe the truth of Christ’s 1st coming, that He came as Savior and Lord, but might we also believe the truth of His 2nd coming, that He will come as Judge and King. Might we believe His promises for the church, and might we believe His promises for the Jews. Might we believe that Christ is coming again for the church, and also that He is coming again for the Jews.
There’s no doubt that all God’s promises to the Jews, given to us time and time again in the Old Testament, will be fulfilled. But there is much more to say, from the gospels and from the rest of the New Testament, that gives us evidence, and without question, prove the truth of God’s promises to the Jews. Next week, we’ll look at more of these, and specifically at Romans 11 (salvation of the Jews), Hebrews 11 (the land of the Jews), and Revelation 11 (the King of the Jews). “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not keep quiet, until her righteousness goes forth like brightness, and her salvation like a torch that is burning. And the nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory.” Isaiah 62:1-2