Mainline Christianity believes today, that the children of Israel have lost their position as the people of God, being replaced by the Christian Church. This Christian doctrine which is generally known as replacement theology, has even led some to believe that the people of Israel, commonly known today as the “Jews” are the ones who should be blamed for Messiah Yeshua’s(Jesus’ true name) death, and that they are cursed because of it. So, has the “Church” replaced “Israel”? Has the “Christian” replaced the “Jew”? We will delve into the Scriptures for answers as usual… let us begin.
The first thing we must do before anything else, is to define what the words “Church“, “Jew“, “Christian“, “Israel” really mean in the Scriptures. Please see a brief definition of each of these words, given below.
A Jew is a descendant of Judah – one of the 12 sons/tribes of Israel. After the Assyrian Exile of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, The Southern Kingdom of Judah was also exiled to Babylon – but returned to the land after 70 years. From that time onward, all of Israel are also referred to as Jews sometimes, as the majority of the tribes were lost and scattered as per prophecy. (Please read this post for a detailed account of this summarized definition)
Israel was the new name given to Jacob by the Almighty, and was later used to refer to his descendants – the Children of Israel or the Tribes of Israel. Israel is referred to as God’s People Forever, and consists of not only the native born, but the stranger who joins himself unto them. Israel of the Scriptures, is not a land or country, but a group of people. (Please read this post for a detailed account of this summarized definition)
Church is the body of people, the “called out” ones – and not a building, institution or place. It is an assembly of people, and is not a new entity created in the New Testament (Please read this post for a detailed account of this summarized definition)
Christian was a word coined by the world of the 1st Century to refer to believers of Yeshua. Only used 3 times in the whole of the New Testament, other names like “The Way” & “The Nazarenes” were used by believers, to refer to themselves. Furthermore, there was no new religion borne as Christianity in the 1st Century, and all believers were considered a sect with the only difference being belief in Yeshua as Messiah. (Please read this post for a detailed account of this summarized definition)
Looking at the above definitions, you may be able to see already that there is a major disparity between Biblical Definitions and the meanings of these words in mainline Christianity today. Further study will reveal that the proposition of “Christians replacing Israel” is both absurd and unbiblical, going against the Old Testament Scriptures, Yeshua’s words, as well as the letters of the Apostle Paul.
Before we delve into the subject in hand, we must understand that most of us are blind, even though we read our Bibles and hear amazing sermons. Spiritual Blindness is the major hurdle that each believer must get over, if they are to run the good race.
Many of us have been successful in reading the Bible (at least the New Testament) a few times over, And all Christians from all the different denominations with their diverse doctrines, believe what they each know or have read, to be the final truth.
The apostle Paul was similar to us in this way. He was a learned student of Gamaliel, with an unparalleled zealousness towards God(Act 22:3). He believed that imprisoning all who believed in Yeshua to be Messiah, was a service towards God. As we all know, it took a divine intervention to open Paul’s eyes. With all his knowledge, he had been blind – but now the scales had fallen off, and he could see.
After the Resurrection, the disciples went through a similar experience. Yeshua explained how all things concerning Him had to be fulfilled according to Moses (5 books of Moses known as Torah), the Prophets (All prophetic books known as Nevi’im) & Psalms (Other writings inclusive of the book of Psalms, known as the Ketuvim) (Luk 24:44). Luke writes that “He then opened their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures”(Luk 24:45). Similar to Paul, the disciple also received divine understanding of the Scriptures from that point onwards.
The Kingdom of Israel restored in the future?
After He rose from the dead, Yeshua appeared to the disciples for a span of 40 days, and was finally ready to ascend to the Father. And as the disciples gathered around Him, they asked Him an all important question that all Christians seem to gloss over, when reading the book of Acts. The question was:-
Act 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
The disciples who had divine understanding of the Scriptures by this time, were asking Christ about the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. Christians would think of this as an absurd inquiry. And if it was absurd, Yeshua would have reprimanded the disciples for sure, calling them “fools” or “ones without understanding”, as He had done many times before. But what did He say?
Act 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
It is beyond any doubt, according to the above verse, that the Father will Restore the Kingdom of Israel, in His own Time. Anyone who believes or teaches “Israel” was replaced by the “Christian Church” is not only mistaken, but in grave danger of going against God’s own Word.
To understand the “Restoration”, we must know about the “Scattering/Exile”
A Christians’ answer to the question “who did God make the New Covenant with” – is usually the “church” or “christians”. But the Word says otherwise; “the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah(Heb 8:8). If the New Covenant is made with “the house of Israel” and with “the house of Judah”, shouldn’t we be part of it? Shouldn’t we at least know what these two houses are?
If you do not know about the 2 Houses of Israel (also known as the Divided Kingdom of Israel, please read this study) I will attempt to give a very short summary for your benefit:- After Moses and Joshua led the people into the promised land, the people were under judges until the time Saul was anointed King of Israel. After Saul, David came to the throne and Solomon after that. When Solomon was in his old age, he was seduced by his many wives to disobey God’s Commandments (1Kin 11:4-13). As punishment, God divided the Kingdom of Israel into 2 parts (1Kin 11:30). Ten tribes were handed onto Jeroboam – the servant of Solomon (1Kin 11:31). Solomon’s son, Rehoboam ruled over the other two tribes which were Judah & Benjamin (1Kin 12:17,23). From this point onwards, Israel became divided into 2 parts/kingdoms known as “The House of Israel” & “The House of Judah” (Jer 3:18) both were led astray by most of their rulers. This continued until finally according to all the prophets “The House of Israel” was taken into captivity by Assyria (2Kin 17:6,18,23), and scattered among the nations(Hos 8:8, Jer 31:10). Approximately 150 years afterwards “The House of Judah” was taken into Babylonian captivity (Dan 1:1,2), but was let back into the land by God after a 70 year exile period (Jer 29:10, Ezr 2:1, Neh 7:6).
God had prophesied the scattering/exile way before it happened (Lev 26:33, Deut 4:27, 28:63-68, 32:26, Jer 9:16, Ezek 20:23, 22:15). In the same way, He had also prophesied that He will gather/restore His people (Deut 30:1-5, Isaiah 11:10-13, 27:12, 43:5-7, Jer 3:12-15, Amos 9:9, Ezek 11:17, Ezek 37).
Yeshua came for the scattered and lost House of Israel
Even though it is hard for us to believe, Messiah’s own words and the Gospel account of John both proclaim that He was sent for the scattered and lost House of Israel. It is the two divided kingdoms of Israel – namely, the House of Israel & the House of Judah, which were called “Lost Sheep” in the Scriptures (Jer 50:4-6, Mic 2:12, Eze 34:6, Jer 50:17).
Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Joh 11:49-52 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.
Joh 7:33-35 Then said Jesus unto them, Yet a little while am I with you, and then I go unto him that sent me. Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me: and where I am, thither ye cannot come. Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?
It is also clearly evident that the Apostles understood that the message needs to go out to the scattered, as we see below.
Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
Israel is never replaced, but is prophesied as part of future events in the New Testament writings
Mat 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Luk 1:32,33 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob* for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. (*The House of Jacob is the collective of the two houses of Israel)
Luk 22:30 That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Act 2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Heb 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Rev 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Rev 21:12 And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
Surely if the Church had replaced Israel, the names of the seven churches should have been written on the gates of heaven instead of the names of the tribes of Israel. If the Church had replaced Israel, the disciples would have sat judging the church instead of the 12 tribes of Israel. If the Church had replaced Israel, the angel Gabriel should have told Mary that He will reign over the church instead of the House of Jacob, equivalent to the 12 tribes of Israel. And finally, if the Church had replaced Israel, the new covenant should have been made with the church instead of the House of Israel & the House of Judah.
If the “church” does not replace “Israel”, where does the “Christian” fit in all this?
The Apostle Paul, is the main spokesperson on how new believers fit into the overall plan of God. The Father has had only one plan – and that was to scatter His people and reap a wider harvest from the ends of the earth.
Paul who understood this perfectly, through his newly opened eyes, knew that “Israel” was not discarded, but that “the strangers or gentiles” were also allowed access to be part of His people along with the returning Children of Israel. His words were that Gentile believers were “fellowcitizens” and of the “commonwealth of Israel”, being “built together” and made into “one”.
Eph 2:12-14 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: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
Eph 2:18-22 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Eph 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:
This is why he spoke of one body with Jew and Gentile worshiping together as one with no separation or difference.
Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.
Col 3:11 Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
Paul was quick to correct the Roman Congregation of believers, of the error of “Replacement Theology” in his letter to them. In Romans Chapter 11, he tackles the question head on. The following are a few snippets from his corrective words, where he explains how the Children of Israel cannot be cast away. How they can be grafted back into His people. How not to be high-minded in thinking they have been cut off so the Gentiles can be grafted in as the new people of God. And how all of Israel shall be saved.
Rom 11:1,2 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying,
Rom 11:11,12 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
Rom 11:16-26 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
Rom 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
The Restoration of the Kingdom of Israel explained by James
At the Jerusalem Council, as the Apostles got together, James explained the restoration of the Kingdom using the Scriptures to the whole congregation.
Act 15:14-17 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
In it, he quoted Amos 9:11,12 speaking of how the rulership of the Davidic Messiah Yeshua would return and how it will contain not only the Children of Israel, but also the gentiles. It was never the “Children of Israel” OR the “Gentiles”. It was never the “Gentiles” replacing the “Children of Israel”. But that the “Children of Israel” would contain the “Gentiles” who believed as one people.
In the eyes of God, there is no “Christians”. No “Church”. No “Jew”. There is only His people – Israel. We are either citizens of the Biblical Israel or not. (I want to make it clear again, that the Israel mentioned on this post is not the same Israel we see on the News. It is not a country or a geographical location – It is His people). As our Messiah Yeshua himself proclaimed:
Joh 10:14-16 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Let us not be high-minded like Paul said. Let us not think that we have superseded the Children of Israel in anyway. Let us ask our Father in Heaven to lift our Spiritual Blindness, so that we may see His truth – His Word. Only then will we clearly see, that there is only one group. One people. One shepherd. One plan. No replacements. No Plan B’s. No divisions. Only restoration of the Kingdom of Israel!