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Will Modern Israel Replace the Church?

Will Israel Succeed the Church?

 

Just who is "Israel" and who are the "church"?

 

Did the church replace Israel?
Will Israel succeed the church?
Has Christ's prayer for unity of Jews and non-Jews been realized?
What does Christ's prayer in John chapter 17 mean?

 

According to Scripture, neither Jesus nor the apostles suggested that the church was brought in to replace Israel. The "replacement theory" which was of later origin, is either the result of misunderstanding Scripture, or else it is a heresy designed by the enemy to foster division in the body of Christ by creating tension between the races.

 

To come to a valid understanding of the subject, I would suggest that it would be only reasonable to first agree on the Bible definition of the terms "Israel" and "church". In the New Testament context, was is meant by the terms "church" and "Israel?" A careful reading of Paul's writings leaves no doubt that he was speaking of two distinct and different "Israels". One was the secular (or religious) Israel. These were Israel only in name. Paul said so much when he said that not all who were called Israel were the true Israel. Romans 9:6-9, 2:28,29. John the Baptist also emphasized this distinction when he warned the Jews not to put their trust in their genetic connection to Abraham, but in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. See Matthew 3:7-12. In Revelation 2:9 the angel who spoke to John clearly distinguished between the true Israel (spiritually alive Jews) and the impostors who called themselves Jews, or Israel, but by rejecting the Messiah had disqualified themselves from that spiritual title.
I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

 

We see "Israel" held in high esteem from Jacob, the first true Israelite, to Revelation. Who did the New Testament writers refer to when they spoke of "Israel"? Chapter eleven in Romans is the chapter many stumble over because, to the unspiritual, Paul seems to be talking out of both sides of his mouth, but that is not the case! For example, in chapter 11:14 he expressed his hope that,
God may save some of them.
In verse 23 he says that they will be saved only if they do not persist in unbelief!
Then in verse 26 he writes that all Israel will be saved.

 

How does Paul put those statements together so that they all say the same thing?
In the book of Romans Paul was dealing with a very difficult problem. Originally, the term "Israel" applied only to those whose faith was anchored in the promised Messiah, who is the Author and Validator of the covenant of faith given to Abraham. You remember that Jacob was not "Israel" until after he met the angel and surrendered his life in repentance to God. "Israel" was to be a spiritual title identifying a people whose trust was not in their own abilities, but in the promised Redeemer. You may read Jacob's biography in Book #1 in the series, Abraham - Messenger to the 21st Century.

 

But as the nation of Israel apostatized, the natural descendants of Jacob retained that title regardless of their relationship to God. Jesus made that clear to Nicodemus when He told him that even though he was a born Jew, was circumcised, and was saturated in all things Jewish, those factors did not qualify him for a place in the kingdom of God. Paul was not a true Israelite either, until he surrendered to the Lord on the road to Damascus. He had called himself an Israelite, but he was so only in name, not in reality, until he accepted Christ as his Lord.

 

In his epistle to the Romans, Paul used the term "Israel" when referring to both the true Israel, and also when addressing the secular Israel. Same name, two Israels. It seems he did this in order to show his people that there was a difference between what one called himself and who he really was. The chapter on The times of the Gentiles in our Book #2 explores this subject in detail from the Scriptural and historical perspectives.

 

However, one point that I did not dwell on in that chapter is the fact that just as there are two "Israels" even today, so also, there are two "churches". There are religious organizations created and controlled by men (or women) that are commonly referred to as "the church". Then, there is the true church that cannot be identified by membership in a religious organization. Only the ekklesia or "called out ones" are the real church. Unfortunately, just as the Jews in Christ's day did not see the difference between those who called themselves "Israel" and those who comprised the true Israel, so today, many do not recognize the difference between that which is called the "church" and the true church that can only be identified in the Spirit. Same name, two bodies.

 
Now, when Jesus told the Jews that the kingdom will be taken away from Israel and given to another people (Matthew 21:43,44), did He take it away from His true Israel or from the impostors who called themselves Israel but who crucified the Prince of peace?
Scripture is clear that the true Israel did not cease to represent God in the world when the Romans destroyed secular Israel in 70 AD by Christ's decree. Matthew 24:1,2. In other words, the true pre-cross Israel flowed right into the post-cross Israel, only now it became known as the "called out ones", or ekklesia, or church. What were they called out from? They were called out from among the pretenders. That is the true meaning of "church". God's church has never been defined by human organizations, because His Spirit does not dwell in temples or systems created by men. John 4:21-24. Acts 7:48.


The apostles and most of the ekklesia who broke rank with the secular Israel were of Jewish descent, and as such formed the nucleus of the New Testament Israel, or church. So, Paul was making it as clear as he could that there was no distinction between Jews and so-called Gentiles in the New Covenant Israel. Jesus Christ made no distinction between the races. They are all redeemed by the same blood. The New Covenant of faith that God gave to Abraham, and that Jesus sealed with His blood included people of all nations. Notice that in Colossians 3:11,12 Paul was addressing the citizens of Collose, who were not Jews, in these words:


Therefore, as God's chosen people...
He recognized non-Jews as "God's Chosen People"! For further evidence that the artificial barriers that had separated Jews from non-Jews were removed by Jesus, see Galatians 3:26-29 and Ephesians 2:14 -21.

 
It is interesting to remember that if the literal Jews are to have a unique place in the kingdom of God, Enoch, Noah and even Abraham would be excluded from their company because none of them were Jews! In fact, that would exclude all God's saints who lived before Jacob's name was changed to Israel. In that case, the present racial divisions would be continued even in heaven.


Those who embrace the unity of all God's saints as one body, form part of the answer to Christ's prayer in John chapter 17, that we all may be one, even as He and the Father are one. This means that the true New Covenant church (ekklesia) is a continuation, or extension, of the true New Covenant Israel.


Did the church replace Israel? Will Israel succeed the church? That depends on which Israel and which church we are talking about. Scripture makes no distinction between the true Israel and the true church! In view of this, any argument about whether or not the church (ekklesia, or called out ones) replaced the true Israel after the cross is redundant. They are the same body, all redeemed by the blood of Jesus when He tore down the artificial wall of hostility between them. Ephesians 2:14.


God's promises to His true Israel (ekklesia) are irrevocable, as Paul said in Romans 11:29. On the other hand, God's promises to secular Israel were all conditional on their faithfulness. See Jeremiah 18:1-12, Deuteronomy 6:5 and 28:15-29, and Hebrews 3:18, 19 which, among many other passages, all agree that God is not indebted to man.
Which "Church" am I committed to?
The true "church" was created in the beginning. Adam and Eve were its seed. God's Spirit dwelt in them. They were the original church. That church continued in an unbroken line from that day to the present, in the midst of, and in spite of religious systems that threatened to smother it. It often experienced times of refreshing, giving it new life just when Satan thought he had it under his foot. It has continued to impact the world and keep the knowledge of God alive at the most critical times.
Are they stubborn or are they merely blind?
Were God's promises to literal Israel irrevocable? Did He paint Himself into a corner so that He is obligated to a nation that to this day insists on its antichrist philosophy? Absolutely not! What about modern preachers who insist that God's promises apply to literal Israel rather than to the true Israel? What does Scripture say? God always made His promises to literal Israel conditional on their obedience. He always prefaced them with a big IF. His promises to the true, or spiritual Israel, are unconditional because they were based on Christ's performance on our behalf! That is the big difference. Example: Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5.

For evidence read the following passages: Jeremiah 18:5-12. Deuteronomy 28:58,68. Exodus 19:5. Psalm 132:11,12. 1Kings 9:6-9.


In view of such clear statements by the prophets, how can any honest person fail to see the truth of God's uncompromising sovereignty? When He said that all Israel will be saved He was referring to His true Israel and not to imposters who carry that title as a political badge.
In view of the clear teachings of both Jesus and the prophets, to presume that Israel as a political nation, is to have a special place in the kingdom of God as an entity separate from the redeemed saints, is outside the stated parameters of God's revealed grace. When Jesus rose from the dead, God decreed an end to racial or any other form of division with which Satan has cursed the human race. We look forward to the day when that divine decree will be implemented openly for all the world to see. In Book #3 in the series Abraham - Messenger to the 21st Century we will look at the unifying Gospel as revealed in the book of Revelation.
These facts do not mean that present day flawed organizations are not serving a useful purpose in bringing people to a knowledge of the Lord. They most definitely are. However, God's true church is presently scattered among the organizations just as it was in the days of Christ. It is evident that God's true saints are presently planted as His ambassadors in all churches.

 
Jesus said that His sheep know His voice and will follow Him. See John chapter ten. One day soon, God's "called out ones", the ekklesia, who may presently call themselves Roman Catholics, Jews, Protestants or by some other label, will find their divisive tags removed as they receive Jesus' new Name written in their foreheads.


I am coming soon...Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the New Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. Revelation 3:11-13.

 

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