The First “Replacement Theologian”

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Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
[The piece, "Spiritual Identity Theft" follows this]
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THE FIRST “REPLACEMENT THEOLOGIAN”

Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of
God shall be taken from you, and given unto
a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.[1]
–Jesus of Nazareth, to “the chief priests and the elders”[2]
of Israel, during a confrontation in the Temple.​

I actually don’t like that term – “replacement theology” – as it’s a misnomer. The church hasn’t replaced Israel. Israel has never been replaced. But Messiah Yeshua did reconstitute and redefine it according to His Torah [law, instruction]. Why should not the King set His nation in order, according to His good pleasure? We’ll look at that in a minute. But first let’s consider some of the things that are being said about so-called “replacement theology,” for this is what some folks presume to call what Jesus Himself did. An article in an issue of Messianic Times had the following title and statements:

GERMANS TAKE LEAD TO CONFESS PAST CRIMES AGAINST JEWS

“In deep shame and contrition we come before the Almighty and merciful God to confess the crimes and injustices perpetrated against the Jewish people down through the centuries, for which the Christian Church bears heavy responsibility.”​

The article continued,

Christians officially repented for the Holocaust, the Crusader's destruction in the Middle Ages, the accusations and persecution during the Black Death, the practice of segregating Jews, the forced baptisms, the false accusations of ritual murder and conspiracy, the Spanish Inquisition, the pogroms, and replacement theology.[3]​

Repentance is appropriate for all those things save one, the so-called “replacement theology.” What the Germans mentioned in the article, and the Messianic Jews who publish Messianic Times mean by that term is this: the doctrine that the Ekklesia[4] of Messiah Yeshua is heir to the blessings promised to Old Testament Israel, and is now in God's eyes that Israel, while "Israel after the flesh" has no status before Him other than one more nation of the world. It sounds quite different to say, the Christian Church is now the beneficiary of all the promises and blessings given to national Israel during the Old Testament era; and to say it that way, without any qualification, betrays Biblical precision, rendering the statement inaccurate.

A friend sent me another article from The Spectator (UK) 23 March 2002:

It was one of those sickening moments when an illusion is shattered and an ominous reality laid bare. I was among a group of Jews and Christians who met recently to discuss the Churches' increasing public hostility to Israel. The Jews were braced for a difficult encounter. After all, many British Jews (of whom I am one) are themselves appalled by the destruction of Palestinian villages, targeted assassinations and other apparent Israeli overreactions to the Middle East conflict.

But this debate never took place. For the Christians said that the Churches' hostility had nothing to do with Israel's behaviour towards the Palestinians. This was merely an excuse. The real reason for the growing antipathy, according to the Christians at that meeting, was the ancient hatred of Jews rooted deep in Christian theology and now on widespread display once again.

A doctrine going back to the early Church fathers, suppressed after the Holocaust, had been revived under the influence of the Middle East conflict. This doctrine is called replacement theology. In essence, it says that the Jews have been replaced by the Christians in God's favour, and so all God's promises to the Jews, including the land of Israel, have been inherited by Christianity.[5]​

This will give the reader new to the controversy an idea of what is being said against so-called replacement theology. And be assured a lot hangs on the outcome of this controversy! As this article says, the very legitimacy of the Jewish state as a prophetic fulfillment is in the balance. For if its existence is found not to be a fulfilling of Biblical prophecy, then it is just another nation of the world, at best.

It needs to be said, people should not equate the Roman Catholic organization with Christians or the Christian Church. It is fair to say the Roman Catholics killed as many evangelical or Protestant Christians as they did Jews and Muslims! Jesus said, “My Kingdom is not of this world,”[6] and on the face of it that disqualifies Rome – according to its own claims – from being Messiah’s community.

Regarding the use of the term “replacement theology,” someone tried to define it as follows:

If we count Messianic Jews as Christians, and we include Gentile Christians in “Israel” (as seems consistent with this passage [Galatians 6:16, “the Israel of God”]), then Israel means Christians rather than Jews (that don't accept Jesus) – though Paul does not say it that way. We take this to be ‘replacement theology’.​

And there are indeed people who think this, and use the proverb, “If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck...etc.” However, in this case the creature does not have the DNA of a duck, notwithstanding its appearance from a cursory glance. Precision of language is of the utmost importance here. Perhaps another way of saying it would be that what is called “the church” is not a Gentile entity: the ekklesia – although it has wrongly been de-Judaized conceptually – is a Jewish entity according to the Scripture, as I will demonstrate. I have no problem with its being de-Judaized in terms of ceremonial and traditional trappings, in fact I would insist on it in areas that are not culturally Jewish.

The Biblical data demands a certain understanding, and to do violence to that data constitutes – how shall I put it? – contradicting God to His face, much as impetuous Peter did when he sought to prevent the Lord Jesus from laying down His life for His sheep.[7] As noted in the heading, Jesus told the chief priests and the rulers He was taking the Kingdom of God from them – from national Israel – and giving it to another nation. They themselves had passed this judgment on the wicked husbandmen Jesus told them of in the parable spoken only moments earlier: those who slew the son – the heir – to gain the inheritance of the vineyard – Israel – would themselves be “miserably destroyed” and the vineyard let out to other husbandmen.[8]

Everything of God pertaining to the old Israel would be transferred out and into the reconstituted Israel Jesus would establish: the Temple would now be His body; Torah would be His word, directly and by His apostles; the Shekinah – the glory – would be the Holy Spirit indwelling the new Temple; the Sabbath would be the rest in Him (different views exist regarding this rest), and the true Israel would be whatever He said it would be. Let us look at that a moment.

He very clearly announced there would be a change in the status of Israel – it, as God’s kingdom, would be taken from the present nation and given to another. It would no longer be God’s kingdom, neither would it be worthy of the appellation, Israel, which means “a prince of God,” nor of the blessing given in that name: “Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men…”[9]

The foretold days of terrible darkness came when the rulers and chief priests allied themselves with the prince of demons, and against the God of Israel, and did as the Prophet plainly spoke in His parable mentioned above.

Who will dare accuse me of being anti-Jewish for telling this truth? It was my own house – the house of Levi – that bore false witness against the King. Telling the truth ever was unpopular in ancient Israel – witness the persecution of the prophets! – and is so even now in modern Jewry, admittedly the children of the Pharisees.[10]

Then Jesus, after He rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, directed the apostle Peter in his sermon to the nation to speak on this wise:

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.[11]​

At that particular moment, by bringing to bear the word and warning of God through the ancient Lawgiver of Israel, restated again at the time of its fulfillment, God cleft the nation in two, those “destroyed from among the people” – cut off from the nation Israel – and those who were grafted in to the new Israel being established by its King. This grafting in was according to their cleaving to Messiah in faith, trusting Him – and the Father through Him – to be their God, obeying His call to them to return from the long exile, to repent and believe in the Son of His love, and to receive forgiveness of their sins, individually and as a nation, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for them by Him, according to His covenant promise to the fathers.

So many images leap out from Scripture to tell this story. John the Baptist said this:

I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather the wheat into the garner; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.[12]​

Is not the “wheat” that of Israel which repented and cleaved to Him, and continued to bear the name Israel, and the “chaff” that of Israel which were, as He said, “not of My sheep,”[13] who opposed Him, and were cut off from His nation?

When the aged Simeon saw the infant Jesus in the Temple he said to Mary, “Behold, this Child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against….that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”[14] This is but another way of saying the same thing: He was coming to gather His true people to Himself, and turn the others away.

And this newly constituted Israel, with whom He would “confirm the covenant with many for one week”[15] (of years), He then opened to the Gentiles, instructing His apostles to bring them in. Which Paul described to those in Ephesus as follows,

Remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world…[16]​

The apostle then tells how the Messiah of Israel made them one people with the Jews, through the blood shed for forgiveness of sins, and His

“having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make one new man, so making peace; and that He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby…For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God…”[17]​

Exactly how Jesus “abolished in His flesh…the law of commandments” is another study, although it is told in this and many other passages of Scripture. The point to be emphasized is Paul’s showing how the Gentiles are now become “fellow-citizens with the [Hebrew] saints, and of the household of God,” still and eternally called Israel! In the Everlasting Kingdom the Lamb – and the Father – are called “the Temple”[18] of it, and the Celestial City is named “new Jerusalem.”[19] The Israel of God is His people.

And Peter described the nation of Messiah in the very terms God described ancient Israel to Moses. First Moses:

Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure to Me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.[20]​

But Israel of old did not keep the covenant[21] and forfeited the promise – according to the stipulations of the covenant itself (see Deuteronomy 28), and yet the underlying covenant of promise made to Abraham remained intact, as Paul showed,

And this I say, that the covenant [with Abraham], that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.[22]​

In other words, although the Mosaic covenant was broken – revealing the utter sinfulness of humankind, and our inability to please God in this state – the Abrahamic covenant, also known as the Covenant of Grace, remained strong, and it was fulfilled in one Israelite (who also – and alone – rendered a perfect obedience to the Mosaic covenant), the long-awaited Seed spoken of to our mother Eve, and longed for by the godly since the beginning of time – Jesus, the Savior of the world. Zacharias, father of John the Baptist, spoke thusly of this fulfillment, his son being appointed “the prophet of the Highest”[23], who Himself had come in the flesh to deliver His people:

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since the world began: that we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; to perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember His holy covenant; the oath which He sware to our father Abraham, that He would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our lives.[24]​

In this prophetic utterance Zacharias foresaw a spiritual fulfillment – involving a return from exile unto their God – which many in the nation did not see or want. This prophecy was fulfilled in the Israel established by Messiah, but not in that of Israel which apostatized and was cut off – the spiritual descendants of which people the modern Jewish state, and world Jewry.

Now Peter, speaking of those who cleaved into Messiah:

To Whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ….ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…[25]​

The imagery remains consistent: we of the community of Messiah, called living stones, are built up a spiritual house, called also the commonwealth of Israel (as we have seen), the very house over which Moses ruled during his time, now ruled over by Jesus,[26] comprised of both Jew and Gentile, under Messianic Torah instead of Mosaic Torah, which new torah has given us the wonderful liberty which characterizes New Covenant spiritual life.

To repeat the central premise and conclusions put forth here: although this of which I have been speaking is spoken disparagingly of as “replacement theology,” it is in fact a much more precise designation: the reconstituting of Israel according to Messiah’s separating the wheat from the chaff of them, and then, after a space, providing entrance to the Gentiles, according to ancient promises of God. Isaiah 9:7 clearly says of Christ’s government and kingdom, that He would act “to order it,” and so He has! Now all in it know Him and love Him (Jer. 31:34), all traitors and hypocrites purged out.

To be sure, those Christians enamored of the modern Zionist political/spiritual agenda (and there is a great “prophecy industry” with big money at stake!) will not take kindly to the views presented herein. And my countrymen according to the flesh, the Jews, being spiritual heirs of the apostate Pharisees cut off in Messiah’s winnowing out the chaff, will of course rage at this disinheriting them of both lineage and promise. This was in part their rage at Messiah Jesus when He said these things to their faces. From among the children of Abraham He called out His sheep, and those not His sheep did not know His voice – hated His voice! – and later, adding to their rage against Him and His flock, He called Gentiles into God’s Israel, as He had foretold,

And I say unto you, that many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the Kingdom of Heaven. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.[27]​

The modern Jewish state is – in the earthly realm – that place of darkness and weeping, even to this day. The Messianic Jews in their midst – no matter many of them err in this business I write of – are the salt of the earth in that land (along with the Palestinian and Arab Christians), and are busy calling God’s people to their Messiah. Only as souls, great in number or small, repent and believe in Yeshua will they become God’s people, and part of Israel. Unbelieving Jews, living as a nation in Palestine, are as a nation of the world, under wrath save they repent. Even widespread repentance there will not make the Jewish state “Israel,” for God has His Israel comprised of many peoples; such repentance in the Jewish state will only transfer those individuals into Messiah’s ekklesia, a kingdom not of the world, although many of us are still in it.

And to those who object that Jesus calls His community “the Israel of God,”[28] why cannot the King of Heaven and earth do according to all His good pleasure? “Is it not lawful for Me to do what I will with Mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”[29]

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Footnotes

1 Matthew 21:43
2 Matthew 21:23
3 The Messianic Times, Vol. 11, Number 2, Summer 2001 – Jewish Year 5761 (p. 14)
4 ekklesia, Greek, “from ekkletos, called out…It was a common term for a congregation of the ekkletoi, the called people, or those called out or assembled in the public affairs of a free state, the body of free citizens called together by a herald…which constituted the ekklesia. In the NT the word is applied to the congregation of the people of Israel (Acts 7:38)…The Christian community was designated for the first time as the ekklesia to differentiate it from the Jewish community…The term ekklesia denotes the NT community of the redeemed…” From, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, by Spiros Zodhiates (AMG Publ. 1992) P. 541. This word is generally translated church in the NT. Ekklesia is used here as the word church is so loaded with accrued meanings.
5 By Melanie Phillips. See: http://www.spectator.co.uk/article....n=current&issue=2002-03-23&id=1580&searchText [link now defunct; sorry]
6 John 18:36
7 Matthew 16:21-23
8 Matthew 21:33-41
9 Genesis 32:28
10 Who Was A Jew? Rabbinic and Halakhic Perspectives on the Jewish-Christian Schism, by Lawrence H. Schiffman (KATV Publishing House, NJ 1985), Pages 4, 5.
11 Acts 3:22, 23; Deuteronomy 18:15-19
12 Matthew 3:11, 12
13 John 10:26
14 Luke 2:34, 35
15 Daniel 9:27
16 Ephesians 2:11, 12
17 Ephesians 2:15, 18, 19
18 Revelation 21:22
19 Revelation 21:2
20 Exodus 19:5, 6
21 Jeremiah 31:32; cf. 31:31-34
22 Galatians 3:17
23 Luke 1:76
24 Luke 1:68-75
25 1 Peter 2:4, 5, 9
26 Hebrews 3:1-6
27 Matthew 8:11, 12
28 Galatians 6:16
29 Matthew 20:15

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SPIRITUAL IDENTITY THEFT: Stealing God’s Gift

The identity under consideration is the name “Israel,” and as its origin and usage come from the Bible, we will first look there. When this name was bestowed upon Jacob by God at Peniel, after he had wrestled with Him through the night (see the account in Genesis 32:24-32), it was given to designate the patriarch’s new spiritual status: in the LORD’s own words, “Thy name shall be no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”

This name is utterly unique! The Lord, set to purify and equip His patriarch of the covenant people, Himself wrestles with Jacob (as with us in all our adversities — truly it is Him in like graciousness behind the scenes) granting him strength to continue — and even prevail — in his desire for the blessing. Jacob’s own strength unequal to the task, and crippled in the struggle, he received strength from God: “with the name He gives the thing itself which the name implies.” (1) The name was conceived and bestowed by God to designate a blessed state of being; it was passed on to his descendants as well, and the name was also removed from some of them by the same Bestower, for serious violations of the covenant, as seen in Exodus 12:15, 19; 30:33, 38, and Isaiah 9:13-17; 48:16-19, (2) and shown in the expressions, “that soul shall be cut off from Israel,” “…shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel,” “…shall even be cut off from his people,” “…destroyed from among you,” and “…destroyed from before Me.”

It should be clear that this is not a name to be bestowed by men, (3) as God has created and reserved it for His own special use. It should also be clear He retains the right to strip the name from whom He will, and specifies when this is to be done.

To use this name when it has not been given, or after it has been removed, is to steal a prerogative reserved by God to Himself. It is stealing the right to confer an identity from the Almighty God!

We will look at a modern instance of this in a moment, but let us first look at a warning to the people of Israel given by God through Moses in his Fifth Book, which bears directly on this:

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. (Deut. 18:18, 19)​

This is a warning to heed the words of those appointed to the prophetic office, and in particular Him who is the culmination and fulfillment of that office, the Messiah, whom New Covenant believers know as Jesus of Nazareth. The phrase, “I will require it of him,” means in this instance, “I will require his place among My people and his life.” Consider the destruction to be visited on those who with wicked hearts refused to “hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all His commandments…” (Deut 28:15), which promised destruction is shown in the verses following, so you may comprehend the dread import of the words “I will require it…” (4) to the Jewish nation after Messiah appeared among them.

Messiah’s apostle, Peter, in quoting from this passage (5) as he spoke to the people of Israel, rendered it, “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that Prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” (Acts 3:22, 23)

We have looked at the pertinent Biblical data, and have seen the name Israel given by God and taken away by Him (from those who did not warrant it). We have seen it specifically taken away from those in the Jewish nation who, in the time of Christ and the apostles, refused to “hear that Prophet,” who would not “hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name.” Simply put, God openly cleft all those who refused His word through Messiah from the people of Israel, like a butcher cuts away gristle. As with a great cleaver He divided the nation, those who were His, and those who were not, even as aged Simeon prophesied over the infant Jesus in the temple, “Behold, this child is set for the falling and rising again of many in Israel…” (Luke 2:34; Cf. Isaiah 8:14, 15)

From this point on, the people of Israel gathered around their King, Messiah Jesus. Those who did not were “cut off” from the people by the judicial decree of God. Jesus Himself foretold this event when He announced to the chief priests and elders of Israel, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” (Matthew 21:43) Immediately prior to that statement He told them the same thing in the parable of the vineyard, there holding up a mirror to their motives and actions (verses 33-41). Many of the priests, and some Pharisees, did turn to Him.

We look now at the “identity theft” spoken of earlier, which, amazingly, is abetted by some in the Community of Messiah, God’s authentic “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9).

On May 14, 1948, descendants of those Jews who were declared no longer people of Israel by Messiah (and by the word of Moses) declared themselves a sovereign nation in the land of Palestine, to be called the State of Israel. Those Jews who denominated themselves thus, had for 2,000 years maintained their identity as Jews through subjection to rabbinic teaching devolved from the first century Pharisees, who were, in the main, the leaders of the apostasy from -- and rebellion against -- the God of Israel, and His appointed King. This stealing the name only God may give is an act of unbridled defiance.

I hear many Christians declaiming from various prophetic Scriptures and schemas that the Jewish state is still God’s Israel, and they go quite on about it, overlooking -- or avoiding -- the foundational decree on the matter.

But God’s decree stands eternal: A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up…Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever He shall say unto you.

He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name. [Jesus said,]…I have not spoken of Myself, but the Father which sent Me, He gave Me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto Me, so I speak. (John 1:10-12; 12:49, 50)​

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My [the Father’s] words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him.

Whoever abides in the word and Spirit of the King of Israel partakes of His identity and Kingdom, be they Jew or Gentile. Any others who call themselves Israelites, on any other basis, will answer for this identity theft -- this stealing of that which belongs to God -- on the Day that is coming quickly. Do not support them in their grievous delusion and sin!

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(1) Commentary Upon The Book Of Genesis, by John Calvin, on 32:28
(2) Further references on this wise: Deut. 4:2, 3; Lev. 7:21, 25, 27; 18:29; 19:8; 20:6; 23:29, 30; Num. 9:13; 15:30, 31; 19:13; Psalm 94:23; 101:8; etc.
(3) This is not referring to parents who name their children after Biblical characters, even such as Israel, Jesus, Moses, etc., which may be a way of honoring heroes of the Faith, and seeking the blessing of their children.
(4) It is the same usage as in Genesis 9:5; 42:22; and 2 Chron. 24:22.
(5) Deuteronomy 18:15, 19.
 
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