Why Replacement Theology Is Wrong
There are those who hold to the idea that God has finished with Israel. They would say that the Jewish rejection of Jesus, as portrayed in The New Testament, has caused God to turn to the Gentile world and the believing Jews only (i.e. those in the church) in such a way as to make His original promises and predictions to the physical descendants of Israel via Abraham to be null and void. This position is known as Replacement Theology. It is found in Roman Catholicism, some Protestant denominations and Islam!
The replacement theology attitude run amok in Islam asserts that they have replaced not only Israel, but the Church as well in God’s economy. The destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by Titus in 70 AD is put forth by both Muslims and Christians in this camp as proof positive that God’s displeasure and chastisement of Israel was really His disowning of them as a people group on a permanent basis. Furthermore, they then arrogantly ( see Romans 11:18) assert that His blessing has exclusively shifted to their own benefit!
The Christian replacement theologians leave the Deuteronomic curses to Israel while appropriating all the blessings associated with Abraham to the Church Corporately and then to its individual members. These dreadful curses are poignantly distilled in Deuteronomy chapter 28 verse 67 “In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see.
Many prominent Church authorities have reasoned this way since the earliest times of the Church pointing to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD as historical justification for their view. Dr. Randall Price notes this saying, “Jerusalem has what no other city has: the Scriptural confirmation that it was chosen by God (1 Kings 8:48 and 11:13).But does that choice continue on through today? The renowned biographer of Rome’s decline and fall, Edward Gibbon, dogmatically declared that it did not, ‘The Jews their nation and their worship have been forever banned’ from Jerusalem and its environs. . . .This view has been stated and shared throughout church history by such notables as Eusebius Pamphilus, the third/fourth century bishop of CAESARIA. . .. and Martin Luther, the sixteenth -century father of the German Reformation from which Protestant Christianity developed. The reasons for these views were largely based on theological interpretations originating from the Roman Catholic Church as well as the physical condition of Jerusalem at the times Eusebius and Luther were alive.” (excerpted from Jerusalem In Prophecy Page 102 by Dr. Randall Price Harvest House Publishers Eugene, Oregon 1998)
This confusion leads to misapplication of God’s promises to whole so called “Christian nations.” For instance many in the Christian Reconstruction Movement wish to install the 613 laws of Moses as the supreme law of the United States. They believe that promises made explicitly to Israel may apply to any society seeking to be faithful to God. Speaking of this problem in light of the exclusivity of the Mosaic covenant with Israel authors Dr. Thomas Ice and Dr. H. Wayne House write, “Deuteronomy 29:1-2 says that these are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab. . . and Moses summoned all Israel.” Therefore one has to spiritualize the text in order to say with certainty that God will do this to “any society faithful to Him and His Word.” God may give those blessings to others or He may smite a people with these curses, but there is no scriptural evidence that such an action is the result of a cause/effect relationship from Deuteronomy 28.” (taken from page 181 of “Dominion Theology Blessing or Curse” by House and Ice on Multinomah Press Portland, Oregon 1988)
Replacement theology may have an appeal to gentile racial or ethnic pride but it is not one that is based upon the higher gracious nature given to believers by Christ. We are saved by believing in God’s unmerited favor extended to us through faith in Christ based upon His unconditional promises but replacement theology refuses to grant this same principle when dealing with God’s earthly people Israel and the unconditional promise of future national salvation (see Romans 11:26) and their return to the land (see Ezekiel 36:24,25).
Some mistakenly believe that they are being more loyal to Jesus by being against those in Israel who are still rejecting Him. It is true that because of their past not knowing the time of their Messiah’s visitation they suffered severe consequences. Luke 19:41-44 tells us “When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.” Their consequences included being hardened and blinded in part (see Romans 11:25) and they are spoken of by God as spiritually “broken off branches” which are able to be grafted back in as a people group (see Romans 11:23).
We believe replacement theology is the epitome of the arrogance that the Holy Spirit warned the Church of through the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 11 verses 17 and 18: “But if some of the branches [Israel] were broken off, and you (all gentile believers), being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them [Israel] of the rich root of the olive tree, do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.”
First, Who Is Israel?
They are a people whose ancestors were given an unconditional land grant in Genesis chapter 13 verse 15 “for all the land which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever.” (NASV95) They also received an unconditional blessing from God Almighty that was to be in force in perpetuity. “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 NASV95) When God confirmed the covenant with Abraham He put Abraham to sleep and walked through the ceremony of confirming the covenant alone. “Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him.” (Genesis 15:12 NASV95) I believe this was to show that the promise was NOT dependent on Abraham, but unconditional and unilateral on God’s part.
God further elaborated on the eternal nature of His covenant in Genesis Chapter 17 versus 7 and 8: “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (NAS95). It is very obvious in this passage that God intended to give the land that was then known as “the land of Canaan.” to Abraham’s descendants as a forever (Olam in the Hebrew) possession. This certainly included all the land that is now known as Israel, Palestine, the West Bank, Judea and Samaria, and even more. This wonderful unconditional promise also included God’s pledge to bless Abraham’s children when God said “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 NASV95)
This blessing and promise of land became the basis for Abraham’s children distinguishing their familial and then their national identity from other people groups. The physical or outward sign of this covenant was the fact that these people’s male children would be circumcised (see Genesis 17:10). This promise was then passed down to Isaac (see Genesis 17:19), then Jacob (see Lev. 26:42; Psalm 105:10 and 1 Chronicles 16:17 ) and then his twelve sons and their descendants.
The blessing of Abraham was in full force during the time of the Kings when spirituality waned among the descendants of Jacob. “But the LORD was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now.” (2 Kings 13:23 NAS95). The New Testament acknowledges this covenant in Acts chapter 7 verse 8 which tells us: “And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs (NAS95).
Is Israel Still A Nation Or Has It Been Genetically Obliterated Through Intermarriage With Gentiles?
Some who hold to replacement theology like to say that Israel today bears no genetic link to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They like to point out the differences between Ashkenazi Jews from Europe and Sephardic Jews whose ancestors never left the Middle East. It is funny that in the name of Christian theology they are willing to forget the genetic intermingling that occurred in our own dear Savior’s genealogy. Ruth was a gentile Moabitess and Rahab was one from Jericho! We don’t know what non-Jewish traits they may or may not have had.
They still persist in saying that the inheritance line is blurred and ruined by intermarriage with gentiles. This, in spite of genetic studies done recently (and which have been widely heralded) that show otherwise. The genetic link of those who are of the tribe of Levi is said to have been confirmed. It has long been recognized by Jewish law that those who have the “ha-Levi” title in their family for three generations back are potentially eligible for service in a future temple as priests. These, as well as others who are named Kohane, Cohen, Levitt or other derivations of that name are said to have genetic markers linking them to each other showing a common ancestor which is presumably Levi!
It seems that the empirical evidence is in but that is not how we should ultimately determine whether Israel has been genetically destroyed. Leaving the possible nuances and ambiguities of modern science, or even Jewish tradition, aside, we should turn to Scripture to find out what God says about the matter.
In Jeremiah 31:35-37 we read: “Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: “If this fixed order departs From before Me,” declares the LORD, “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease From being a nation before Me forever. “Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” declares the LORD.” (NASV95) If the sun is shining on planet earth somewhere, and the moon is in the sky at night, Israel still exists as a nation before God! God keeps track of who is related to whom throughout history and it isn’t their behavior that’s the determining factor as to whether Israel will continue as a nation before God it’s His will.
Hasn’t Israel’s Sin Disenfranchised Them?
Notice the last sentence God uses in the preceding passage of Jeremiah 31:37 : “For all that they have done.”? That should thrill the heart of every believer in Christ who has sinned after receiving His promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. If He will keep His word to Israel on the basis of an unconditional promise to them through Abraham, He will most assuredly keep His unconditional promise of forgiveness through Jesus to we who have trusted Him and entered into the New Covenant in His blood in spite of all of our failures.
The Apostle Paul in Romans chapter three versus 1-3 states very clearly that the advantage the Jew currently possesses is based upon their relationship to the promises God made in the Bible. He says; “Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?”
Besides Land What Does The Abrahamic Covenant Promise To Abraham’s Physical Children Now Known As Jews?
It promises that they would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. “And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3 NASV95) Notice it is a blessing that is not limited by a time constraint but is perpetual. This aspect of the blessing was acknowledged by King Solomon when through prayer He dedicated the great Temple He had built: “…then hear from heaven, from Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.
(2 Chronicles 6:33 NASV95)
The unconditional covenantal blessing continues on as long as there are descendants of Abraham. It was partially fulfilled by the prophets of Israel, such as Jonah going to pagan Nineveh, it has been fulfilled by Abraham’s greatest progeny Jesus in His ministry of death, burial and resurrection for the reconciliation of the peoples of the whole world to the God of Abraham, and also through His church in evangelization and ministry to the needs of the whole world throughout the last two thousand years.
The promise of blessing the whole world will continue to be fulfilled in the future by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists/bond-servants of God prophesied by John in the Book of Revelation: “And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:” (Revelation 7:4 NASV)
Directly following their being sealed against harm and commissioned for their mission we read the seeming consequence of their service which blesses the people of the whole Earth; “After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” In Israel today there are Jews who speak virtually every language of Earth and are familiar with every culture because they have returned from every nation to the land of Israel. Can you imagine a greater missionary force for the Gospel once God seals them and commissions them?
The promise continues way on into the not-to-distant future when Jesus rules and reigns on this planet from Jerusalem. Speaking of the nations of the Earth who rebel against Jesus and pursue evil we read “You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.’” (Ps 2:9) and again in the New Testament: “AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; (Re 2:27 both above NASV95)
Following that blessing of justice on the whole world all the nations of the Earth will be blessed to have Jesus as King over all of them. “Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.” (Zechariah 14:16 NASV95) There is a special place for the adopted spiritual children of Abraham as well (the Church) during this future reign of Jesus: “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (Revelation 20:6 NASV)
Are The Natural Children (The Jews) The Beneficiaries Of All That Is In The Abrahamic Covenant?
Absolutely NOT! One needs look no further than Lazarus (a Jew) and the rich man (a Jew) whom Jesus told about. One was in torment and the other in paradise. Only those who have been adopted by God through the spiritual new birth (which is found only by believing the Messianic promises of God fulfilled by Yeshua or Jesus) are eligible for all the eternal blessings. This ultimately means living forever in the city Abraham looked for which is not built with human hands but by God Hebrews 11:8-10 tells us that “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (NASV95). There were only seven thousand Israelites during the time of Elijah that belonged to this category of physical as well as spiritually regenerated descendants of Abraham.
Are Christians Children Of Abraham Too?
I am glad to answer that question with an emphatic YES! We are in Christ and all of the blessings of Abraham are bestowed on Him and, therefore, on us. Ephesians 1:5 and 6 speaks of those who have trusted Jesus for salvation when it says: “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Does This Mean The Land Covenant Belongs To Christians As Well?
Yes, but only in Christ and not directly by natural birth as it does to the Jew. This means that we all await the time when Jesus comes back to the land to rule and reign with Him. The natural children of Abraham are prophesied to go back to the land in unbelief before Christ returns. (See Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37).
Can’t The Church Be Israel?
Again, what is wrong with believing that the Church is now Israel and that God has forsaken Israel is that it brings into question the integrity of God. If God has forsaken Israel, and His numerous unconditional promises and predictions of blessing on them, then the promise that gives us assurance of His grace to us is also in question.
The Apostle Paul makes this very point when he compares the relationship between the Mosaic covenant and the Abrahamic covenant in Galatians 3:17. He writes, “What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise.” Romans 4:1-10 says “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “BLESSED ARE THOSE WHOSE LAWLESS DEEDS HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, AND WHOSE SINS HAVE BEEN COVERED. “BLESSED IS THE MAN WHOSE SIN THE LORD WILL NOT TAKE INTO ACCOUNT.” Is this blessing then on the circumcised, or on the uncircumcised also? For we say, “FAITH WAS CREDITED TO ABRAHAM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” How then was it credited? While he was circumcised, or uncircumcised? Not while circumcised, but while uncircumcised;” (NASV95)
This passage shows that the PROMISE that God makes is the basis for all hope for the Christian. A promise is only as good as the integrity and ability to carry out what is pledged, of the one making the promise. In this case it is God Himself Who made the promise to Abraham regarding his children. It was made to Abraham BEFORE he even practiced his end of the bargain i.e. circumcision because it was not contingent or conditioned upon Abraham’s works but only on his faith in God’s promise and ultimately in God’s integrity!
“For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if those who are of the Law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise is nullified; for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, there also is no violation. For this reason it is by faith, in order that it may be in accordance with grace, so that the promise will be guaranteed to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all” Romans 4:13-16;
Dilemmas And Questions Concerning Modern Israel In The Light of the Abrahamic Land Covenant:
The following are questions regarding the modern state of Israel that have been put forward by a listener to our radio program.
QUESTION: “One of the two highest callings right next to the Love of God is to “love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Do territorial claims in “tribal texts” take precedence over “real-time” demands for Christians to pursue the equitable administration of justice? Does THAT demand of Jesus weigh more heavily on the heart of a person concerned with Israel’s relations with her neighbors?”
ANSWER: In Matthew 22:37-40 Jesus gives us the first and second greatest commandments. The first is, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This commandment takes precedence even over the second commandment which He subsequently gave in the same instance when He said, “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
The commandments are similar but not identical and are distinct from each other. If we were to reason using only the second commandment then we would have to employ anthropocentric, instead of Theocentric, principles which can be found even in godless humanism. Mankind, unlike God, reasons only from a linear time perspective and not from an eternal or “outside of time” one. The Bible reflects a communication from outside of time that is written in a way we can understand. Therefore, it presents us with the possibility of reasoning from an eternal perspective if we employ its precepts and logical premises.
Most people have opted for an evolutionary or “progressive” sense of law and order that is based on historical precedents. By doing this the world has developed its own sense of propriety and laws governing human interaction. We call this body of historical thought and philosophy by a number of names, one of them being “international law.” Much of human justice can be applied using the “golden rule” which is what the second greatest commandment is all about. “Doing unto others as you would have them do unto you” is nearly universally recognized as fundamental to all human interaction. So what is wrong with this?
If eternal pronouncements and edicts communicated by an eternal Creator were factored in, and took precedence over human actions and determinations, then there would be no problem with this process. However, this is not the case in most human history. Rarely, if ever, does one read that international law or the actions of nations were based upon first studying the Scriptures in order to determine what God had to say about the issue of justice at hand.
Two early 19th century “near exceptions” readily come to mind. They are the case of former U.S. President John Quincy Adams, when he was advocate for the imprisoned slaves of the slave ship Amistad, which resulted in their release, and the British statesman William Wilberforce, whose parliamentary efforts in 1807 resulted in the cessation of the slave trade that year throughout the United Kingdom. His efforts led to the eventual abolishment of slavery itself there in 1833, which was also the year of his death. But these two examples really prove the point because they were rare individuals on the international stage who were motivated by, and reasoned from, the Scriptures. Pragmatism and greed/self interest normally dominate the decisions of nations.
These two were also not whole governing bodies of men who decided that of first importance the Scriptures and, therefore, God’s will must be sought out to decide what was just. The only real exception in this second category are the writings of the Founding Fathers of the United States. The Continental Congress was unique in history because it openly employed Scriptural reference behind their reasoning as they crafted the Constitution and the Bill of Rights of the United States of America. Still, most of international and United Nations law operates apart from the influence of the Bible and is careless regarding its Author’s intent for mankind.
If we were only to reason from a human perspective when it comes to the Jewish claim to the Holy Land, all sorts of temporal renderings would be acceptable in building a case of parity regarding the claims of Jews and non-Jewish people groups. Apriori claims are one way the nations have developed to determine just ownership of land. Some Arabs can make the case that their family has been in the holy land since the time of the Crusades when their ancestors, under Saladin, drove the Crusaders out and occupied the land. Still, others may point back to the time of the first Moslem invasion of Jerusalem centuries earlier. As unlikely as it may seem, there could be a very few others that can claim that their ancestry goes back to the 136 AD Bar Kochba rebellion and that they took up residence there when the Romans drove the Jews out by the edge of their swords.
All of the apriori claims go back to a time of bloodshed and naked aggression. This could also be said of the Jews as well except their claim is more ancient and consistent than the others. They too came to this land and attacked the occupants in order to establish residence there -but it was under direct command of God Almighty! Most of the people groups that they drove out are no longer distinguishable as national or ethnic entities such as the case of the Philistines. The Jews however, have maintained a constant remnant in the land even under the hazards of Roman, Islamic and Christian occupation. Still, using only human premises we may reason that there is some way that justice demands another Arab state. Others disagree with this as being unjust on the basis of Jewish actions alone in the 20th century.
So what is wrong with using only recent history going back to Chaim Weizmann, Theodor Hertzel and the 1890s Jewish Zionist congresses that decided by one vote to go back to their ancient homeland. We must add in subsequent Jewish immigration and legal purchasing of lands under Turkish rule. They developed the land by draining swamps sometimes unbder gunfire. They smuggled in other Jews (some from Nazi Germany) under the noses of the English occupiers of the land. They then lawfully declared the State of Israel in 1948 after the partitioning under the British mandate. They then took land when attacked in five wars and subsequently relinquished more than 90% of it in past “land for peace” agreements? There is a good prima facie case historical case to be made on behalf of Israel here as the underdog and the wounded party.
Add to this that there is no ancient Palestinian state, no distinct Palestinian language, or religion, or ethnicity. They are all Arabs just as in the rest of the Middle East from which most emigrated to “Palestine” and before that Rome’s Palestina and before that Judea, Samaria and Israel! This is in stark contrast to the Jews who have been there since Joshua’s time. So again, what is wrong with this historical approach alone? Nothing at all if God doesn’t exist or if He hasn’t spoken about who owns the land. I have already shown that God gave the land in question to the Jews according to the Bible.
The real question is: Has God spoken?
(There are many fulfilled prophecies that prove the supernatural nature of the 66 books of the Bible. It is not the purpose of this article to delve into that but to show that if God has spoken we must set our individual prorities, even in the political and international arenas, in harmony and concert with His.)
The answer to that question for the Christian is a definite yes! It is written in 2nd Timothy chapter 3 verses 16 and 17 that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” All Scripture certainly means what is known as the “Torah”, ” The Pentateuch” or the first five books of the Bible penned by Moses. The New Testament book of Hebrews tells us in chapter 13 and verse 8 that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday today and forever. ” In other words He is God and was the same Person that inspired Moses to write. The Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write in Romans 3:4 “….let God be found true, though every man be found a liar.” (NASV95) Thus, God’s pronouncements are eternal and take precedence over man’s reasonings however lofty or “just” they may seem.
Here we come back to the first, and greatest commandment. To love God means to be loyal to Him and His words above all other loyalties. Jesus said in Luke 14:26 that if your love of Him doesn’t make your love for your father and mother, children and even your own life look like hate, by comparison, then you cannot be His disciple. Though we may all fall short of God’s glory in this matter it doesn’t negate the principle. This certainly flies in the face of most justice renderings of mankind that puts self and family first, followed by community, nationalistic, religious or ethnic loyalties. Sometimes the religious or other loyalties can win out over self and family, as in the case of suicide bombers and military men dying for their “god”, country or comrades. God acknowledges this impulse in mankind when He inspired Romans 5:7 “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.” Jesus makes it clear that our loyalty must be to God before all else.
QUESTION: Would it be just for Judeo-Christians to force all other parties, including non-believers and Muslims, to accept the wholesale theft of all lands out to the Euphrates just because some very old text seemed to make such a territorial claim?
ANSWER: This begs the question of what is “theft”? If theft is defined as taking what does not belong to you, then the real question we must ask is: Who does this land really belong to? Ultimately speaking, all land belongs to God by right of His Creatorhood. This is made clear in 1 Corinthians 10:26 where we read “FOR THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS.” (NASV95). God calls the Holy Land His own property in Joel chapter 3 verses 1-5.
Since this is true, we better find out if He has expressed His will regarding what people He wants on the land from the Mediterranean Sea “out to the Euphrates.” Numbers 31:1-12 begins with the words “Then the Lord spoke to Moses…” This passage then goes on to describe in specific detail what lands were to be possessed by Israel by virtue of the Abrahamic covenant that had been passed down to them through the patriarchs. Since this was an “Olam” or forever covenant then it continues in perpetuity.
As far as demanding that “all other parties, including non-believers and Muslims” obey God goes, it is absolutely permissable to ask without forcing. We do this all the time when we call people, nations or individuals, to repentance. For the sake of God’s will being done regarding this land it seems proper to ask the nations of the world, especially those who are currently on that land, to honor God’s desires and submit to the sovereignty of the people He has designated should be in control of it. This would honor God and solve the Middle East problem if it were done joyfully unto the Lord by all concerned. It would work only if Israel were also obedient to God’s commands regarding kindness to strangers and foreigners living among them. As it says in Leviticus 19:34 “The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt; I am the LORD your God.”
QUESTION: Does God Use Sinful Nations To Accomplish His Prophesied Will?
“All things work together for the good for those that love God and are the called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Ultimately the greatest good for all people, both on earth and in heaven, “who love God and are the called according to His purpose” is for Jesus Christ to return and reign from Jerusalem. There are things predicted that nations will do before that happens. God is sovereign and will work all those things that nations will do for that ultimate good. One of the things in this category is the rise of the Antichrist. Israel is destined to have certain dealings with this figure in the time known as “Jacob’s trouble.” This must happen before they can say “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” about their true Messiah. Jesus said it is a prerequisite for the greatest of all goods (i.e. His return) for the Jews to say that. If we saw a sequence of Western agitation and diplomatic and military moves seemingly intended to arrange the Middle-East for a military rearrangement of the borders we must remind ourselves that Romans 8:28 is still in force.
Ezekiel chapters 36 and 37 prophetically portray what many scholars believe is the times we are living in at the start of the 21st century. God says He will cause a sinful and unbelieving Israel to come back to the land He gave their forefathers. Because they will come back in unbelief it is obvious that God will partially use their selfish or sinful motivations and actions to accomplish this. He plainly tells them in Ezekiel 36:22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went.”
God will continue to honor His covenant with Abraham concerning His land and his progeny. They are loved by God for the sake of their fathers (see Romans 11:28) if He loves them –then so should we! We must be in accord with God’s ultimate and revealed will. This is so even if we, as does God, disagree with some of the evil motivations found in all the Middle Eastern parties concerned.
It is not easy to fly in the face of society at large when it comes to this matter. There are real passions and wounds on both sides. I have experienced the pain personally in one on one conversations I’ve had in Israel with those on both sides. Christian compassion must go out in mercy to those individuals but it doesn’t mean we don’t heed what God has said about the big picture. 1 John chapter 5 verse 19 tells the Christian: “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” God, not satanic majority public opinion, must determine our stance on who ultimately should be in that land.
God tells us in the Bible what is at the end of the path the world is on as they continue to disagree with Him and meddle in His affairs: “I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land.” (Joel 3:2 NIV) The whole world is on the broad path that will lead them to Armeggedon and we are suppose to disagree with them every nasty step of that way. We must always point them to the only escape they have which is in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.