Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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STAND FIRM: Church, We Must Get Israel Right, Because God Still Has a Plan for Israel

I’ve spent my last three articles sharing how severe it can be if the church gets Israel wrong. I hope I’ve convinced you that we need to step back and open our eyes to what Scripture says about our relationship with Israel and God’s continued plan for them. Even if you already have a favorable outlook toward the Jews and the nation of Israel, I hope you will still see the need to align your understanding with the Word. I’m on that journey and have been on it for nearly 10 years.

Of those 10 years, it’s only been during the last 4 that I believe I’ve begun aligning my understanding and teachings about Israel with the Bible. For most of my pastoral ministry, I got Israel wrong. I was never against Israel or Jews, I thought favorably of the Jewish people and supported the nation of Israel, but unknowingly, my teachings were basically “supersessionism.” Supersessionism is a belief that says the church replaces the nation of Israel. I never thought the church erased Israel, but if someone broke down my teachings, it would seem like it. I treated the accounts of Israel in the Old Testament “spiritually.” This meant I would preach that they were pictures of the Christian life. I didn’t see how it was actually part of the “narrative” to which our following of Christ today brings us into.

The great gulf we place between the Old and New Testament leads to us treating Israel as if we’ve replaced them. We talk about that “now” there’s the New Covenant and it is for the church, but the promise of the New Covenant is first found with the prophets in the Old Testament. Jeremiah prophesied that God would make this New Covenant with Israel. Though we, as Gentiles, get to partake and enjoy the New Covenant, we’re not doing so in place of Israel, instead, we’re doing so through Israel. In Romans 11, Paul writes that we are “grafted” into Israel and God’s promises to them. In Galatians, Paul writes that we’re “adopted” into the inheritance of Israel from God.

I write this today because I know many struggle with the idea of Israel mattering today and God having a continued plan for them. I know because I didn’t see those things either. I didn’t even understand God’s plan for Israel from the beginning, and I treated those Old Testament accounts as just illustrations of the Christian life. But for others, I often hear Romans 9 as the reason for the belief that Israel doesn’t matter today.

If one reads Romans 9, especially verses 6-21, it could seem like God is done with Israel. Here are just a few verses so you can see how that might be: “It is not as though God’s word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children. On the contrary, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’ In other words, it is not the children by physical descent who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring” (Rom. 9:6-8 NIV).

You can see how Paul seems to be stating that just because someone is ethnically Jewish doesn’t mean they are Israel, meaning that only those who place their faith in Christ receive the promises given to Israel. One could follow this thought out to how the church then could replace Israel. To be fair, Paul is stating that only those who are saved make up the ones of Israel who receive the promises.

If the situation of Israel stayed in unbelief, then this could be the case, but prophetically as we will look at in later articles, collectively surviving Jews at the end of the age accept Jesus therefore circumventing the argument in Romans 9. That reality aside for a moment, if one keeps reading into Romans 10 and especially Romans 11, Paul makes it crystal clear that God has a continued plan for Israel.

Look how Paul answers this straightforwardly as if he anticipated people to conclude incorrectly from Romans 9: “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!… God did not reject his people…” (Rom. 11:1-2). “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious” (Rom. 11:11). “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(Rom. 11:28-29).

I said one could possibly think the church replaced Israel from Romans 9, but in fairness, you’d have to admit that the statement in that chapter is not anywhere as clear as these three in Romans 11. Paul also explains this in a couple of other ways in Romans 11. In verses 17-21, Paul says that Gentiles (the church) are grafted into Israel. He does not say we replace them. Then in Romans 11:25, Paul explains what is going on so that we, the church, would not become conceited that we were superior or supplanted Israel. He wrote: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25).

This is just evidence from Romans 11 showing God is not done with Israel. We could unfold the promises that are still on the table and the prophecies that still pertain to the future for Israel to further prove this point.

Another passage to which some go to say that God is done with Israel is Jeremiah 3. In this passage, it seems to say God divorced Israel. I write “seems” because, according to the context, I’m not sure if we’re understanding it correctly. In verse 8, it says God gives Israel (the northern 10 tribes) a certificate of divorce, but in verses 12 through the rest of the chapter is a call for Israel to return and tells how God would reconcile with them. The context and the similar example in Hosea show that God was not saying He was finished with Israel or that we replace them.

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (standfirmministries.com)

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