Has God replaced his promises to Israel with promises to be fulfilled by the church?
One of the evidences for the reality of God surely is the existence of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Against the odds of history after a gap of 2550 years, in 1948 the independent nation of Israel was created.
Each Christmas many around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, a Jew, born in miraculous fashion, sent by God to redeem the world. As God had anticipated in Isaiah 53 and other Scriptures Jesus was rejected by his own people who wanted him crucified.
Isaiah 53 The Message
Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost. We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.
As a result of their treatment of Jesus and as Jesus had warned them, Israel was destroyed as a nation and its Temple levelled to the ground in 70 AD.
Hosea 3:4 there is a promise of judgement on Israel which already has been literally fulfilled: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.”
Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, And the mountain of the temple like the bare hills of the forest. Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; And peoples shall flow to it. Many nations shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion the law shall go forth, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.
OT prophecies (Isa. 59:20,21 and Jer. 31:33,34)
In spite of this in Jeremiah 33 God promises that he will restore the people of Israel to himself.
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Ezekiel 36 speaks about a restoration and reconciliation between God and Israel.
Ezekiel 36: 22-27 Living Bible (TLB)
“Therefore say to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord God says: I am bringing you back again, but not because you deserve it; I am doing it to protect my holy name, which you tarnished among the nations. 23 I will honor my great name, that you defiled, and the people of the world shall know I am the Lord. I will be honored before their eyes by delivering you from exile among them. 24 For I will bring you back home again to the land of Israel. “‘Then it will be as though I had sprinkled clean water on you, for you will be clean—your filthiness will be washed away, your idol worship gone. 26 And I will give you a new heart—I will give you new and right desires—and put a new spirit within you. I will take out your stony hearts of sin and give you new hearts of love. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you so that you will obey my laws and do whatever I command.
Ezekiel 37 gives a graphic depiction of a valley of dry bones being transformed into an army of soldiers.
Ezekiel 37: 11-13
Then he told me what the vision meant: “These bones,” he said, “represent all the people of Israel. They say: ‘We have become a heap of dried-out bones—all hope is gone.’ 12 But tell them, ‘The Lord God says: My people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again and return to the land of Israel. 13 And, then at last, O my people, you will know I am the Lord. 14 I will put my Spirit into you, and you shall live and return home again to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have done just what I promised you.’”
Romans 1:11 GOD’S WORD Translation
So I ask, “Has Israel stumbled so badly that it can’t get up again?” That’s unthinkable! By Israel’s failure, salvation has come to people who are not Jewish to make the Jewish people jealous. 12 The fall of the Jewish people made the world spiritually rich. Their failure made people who are not Jewish spiritually rich. So the inclusion of Jewish people will make the world even richer.
Despite the clarity of these Scriptures from the Old Testament there is a popular interpretation that God has abandoned Israel and replaced Israel with the church to fulfill these type of prophecies.
Allegory or Reality?
Zechariah 14: 8-9 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) Living Water from Jerusalem
On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it to the Dead Sea and the other half to the Mediterranean Sea. It will continue in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be the only Lord and his name the only name.
Zechariah 14: 3-5 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations as he does when he fights a battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will be split in two, forming a very large valley from east to west. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and the other half will move toward the south. 5 Then you will flee to the valley of my mountains, because this valley between the mountains will go as far as Azel. You will flee as you did from the earthquake at the time of King Uzziah of Judah. The Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones will be with him.
Where do you stand?
Ready for a future reality, looking for an allegorical conclusion with a climate change solution, or needing more time to sit on the fence?
Image of Dead Sea by Dave Herring on Unsplash