A so-called “Christian Zionist” is more than someone who sits in a church meeting and sings “We’re Marching To Zion.” He/she strongly believes that all Christians are commanded to revere and pledge their allegiance to the nation Israel, and that doing so will bring them and their country untold blessings, while failing to will result in cursing and national demise. The following statement typifies this belief:
Only one nation, Israel, stands between Soviet-sponsored terrorist aggression and the complete decline of the United States as a democratic world power… Surely demonic pressure will endeavour to encourage her to betray Israel. This must not happen. Israel is the key to America’s survival. For God has said of the nations who will oppose Israel, “Yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted… I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee…”(Isa.60:12; Gen. 12:3)… As we stand with Israel, I believe we shall see God perform a mighty work in our day. God is going to bless America and Israel as well. It is not too late. I believe this is the greatest hour to be alive, and the key is unity, standing tall, proclaiming with a voice of love our commitment to the House of Israel, and to the God of Israel. 1
I am here to say to them: not so fast, bro. I am a dispensationalist, millenarian futurist, and in no way do I adhere to this belief about the modern nation Israel. I believe, as they do, that the government occupying that parcel of land on the Mediterranean Sea, which calls itself Israel, is not by any stretch of the imagination one and the same as the Israel prophesied of in the old testament scriptures. Therefore, no Gentile or Gentile nation is going to be prospered because they “bless” that nation, nor will they come under a curse and meet with destruction if they don’t.
Now, before all you “dispies” jump to the conclusion that I am a closet amillenialist, allow me to explain the difference between why I believe this as opposed to why they, the amillenialists, believe it.
First, let’s identify the theology behind the amillenialist belief. Amillenialists, and “reformed” theologians teach, concerning prophetic Israel, what is referred to as “Supersessionism;” that is, the Christian church, first mentioned in Matthew 16:18 by the Lord Jesus in a statement made to his 12 disciples (according to them), replaced Israel as God’s chosen vessel, and is the “true” Israel of God. This is exemplified in the following quote from the early church father, Justin Martyr:
“For the true spiritual Israel … are we who have been led to God through this crucified Christ.” ((Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho 11, in Ante-Nicene Fathers))
Here’s an example of the modern reformed Protestant position exemplifying the Christian church as “true Israel” :
“In the Reformed view, the gospel of Jesus Christ directly fulfills the promises of the covenant of grace for all believers, whether Jews or Gentiles. Israel and the church are not two distinct peoples; rather, the church is the true Israel of God, ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession’” (1 Peter 2:9).2
Catholic theology also adheres to this belief, with the exception being that they claim the Catholic episcopate is “true” Israel, and look upon Protestants as “separated brethren”:
“Supersessionism is not the name of any official Roman Catholic doctrine and the word appears in no Church documents; however, the Catholic Church does officially teach that the Mosaic covenant was fulfilled and replaced by the New Covenant in Christ, and that the Catholic Church is the “New Israel” and the fulfillment of Old-Testament Judaism.”3
It must be said here that, while the supersessionist position replaces Israel with the church (i.e., the NT church is the Israel made reference to in the OT prophetic Scriptures) as God’s present chosen people, it is a replacement of national Israel, which still leaves a hope for individual Jews to be included in God’s family through the church.
I whole heartedly agree with the supersessionists 4 that anyone can be included in God’s family, including ethnic Jews, by believing and receiving the gospel of Christ, and that there can be no national Israel presently in existence, re-gathered into the promised land, that is recognized by God as most (but not all) dispensationalist theology teaches. In other words, there is only the church program, not a “Jewish” program and a church program going on simultaneously, under two different sets of marching orders.
But this is where I diverge from the supersessionist model.
While I do agree that there is no Israel of God in existence presently, and therefore no individual or nation can be blessed or cursed in accordance with the way they treat a government that refers to itself as Israel, I do not believe the church, the body of Christ replaced Israel as God’s chosen people. Let me repeat that: THE BODY OF CHRIST IS NOT ISRAEL’S REPLACEMENT. This is because I do not believe the Christian Church is actually the Israel referred to in OT prophecies, e.g. Jeremiah 31:31-34.5
Nor do I believe, as replacement theology teaches, that Jesus’ reference to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” in Matthew 15:24, was actually speaking of the body of Christ.
And finally, I do not believe that Peter is speaking of the church, the body of Christ when he refers to those he is writing as: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession”6
To summarize, the reasons I do not believe the church replaced Israel are:
- the body of Christ is not revealed in the prophetic Scriptures. The body of Christ, which is comprised of people who have trusted Christ as their Savior, regardless of their ethnicity, is part of what the apostle Paul referred to as “the mystery,” which he said was “not made known unto the sons of men..hid from ages and from generations….”7 until he revealed it. In other words, the body of Christ, chosen from “before the foundation of the world,”8 was something entirely apart from, and–other than possessing the same Savior–unattached to Israel and Israel’s promises, and could not have been revealed before Paul revealed it, meaning it couldn’t have been revealed by the Lord in the four gospels.
- the body of Christ is not, as Scripture says of Israel, a royal priesthood, a nation, a government, or a race; it is an invisible, spiritual organism.
- I believe new covenant Israel–“true Israel”–has a future place in God’s plan for the ages. Where I split the sheets with classic dispies is in their contention that prophecy concerning Israel is presently being fufilled in what has been transpiring in the holy land and Palestine since 1948, with the re-repatriation of some of that original land grant by mostly European Jews, and the institution of a government called Israel. In the first place, prophecy says when God puts them back there, “Jerusalem will be safely inhabited…and… Gentiles and kings will be their servants9 Moreover, It says that “in that day,”…nations…. shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”10 When have any of these conditions existed in the holy land since 1948? In fact, just the opposite of this has been the case, as there has been almost constant turmoil, and one war after another between Israel and its Arab enemies. No doubt, the Israelis have acquired the land that the Palestinian Arabs had existed on for 1400 years, and most of their possessions, but it was taken by brute force, not by their adversaries bringing it to them, and laying it at their feet as the prophecy says will happen. Furthermore, what they now possess isn’t even close to what the Biblical land grant possession, which says: “…from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.” 11
The church the body of Christ is not the new covenant church, because the new covenant was never instituted. It was offered to Israel, but Israel rejected it, so it could not have been instituted. What was instituted, by Paul, is the dispensation of grace 12, wherein God is offering salvation by grace to any and all who will believe and trust in the gospel of Christ. 13 This is what has been going on for the last 2000 years. The new covenant is about the Lord’s presence on earth, and rule/judgment over the earth; the dispensation of grace is about his absence from earth, and withholding of judgment of the earth. The new covenant belongs to Israel, but it cannot be instituted until the present dispensation ends, and the Lord returns to earth and re-gathers “true” Israel into the land of the Abrahamic promise, which is plainly spelled out in the following prophecy of Isaiah: And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea.12 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Is. 11:11,12)
A final word about “Blessing Israel.” This is arguing from anecdotal evidence, so take it for what it’s worth.
The U.S. government has given the modern nation Israel, since its inception in 1948, an estimated $150 billion, and they continue to be our number one foreign aid recipient, garnering an annual stipend of $3 billion. Moreover, in all 13 (now 14, with the current Palestinian conflict) of the wars they’ve waged with their Arab enemies, we, i.e., our government, have never taken the Arab side. If that isn’t “blessing Israel,” then I don’t know what would be.
So, is America receiving the abundance of blessings the writer of the opening quote in this article (written in 1980) claimed we’d receive as a result of us blessing them? Hardly. Since that time America has gone from being the greatest creditor nation in the world, and the most prosperous economically, to being the greatest debtor nation in the world that now ranks, according to the Index of Economic Freedom, 12th in the world.14 Furthermore, Over half the U.S. population is presently on some sort of government subsistence, and the middle class, the backbone of all free societies, has done nothing but lose ground over the past 30 years. Judging from these hard statistics, America has received the exact opposite from the abundant “blessings” we’ve bestowed upon Israel.
For further reading on the topics raised in this article, see:
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All Scripture references are taken from the King James Bible
Are you saved? Jesus Christ—“who knew no sin”—and his sacrificial death on the Cross, has made the way for “everyone that believeth…to be reconciled to God. History has shown that whatever peace man has achieved in the world can only be temporary. The Bible says that individual men and women can know, beyond a doubt, that they are saved and bound for heaven, and therefore have absolute and permanent peace, regardless of what is going on in the world, by trusting Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for their eternal salvation. “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….for our justification….believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.”15 Have you done this? If not, why not now?
Mike Evans, Israel, America’s Key to Survival (Plainfield, New Jersey, Logos, 1980), p. 221 ↩
Venema, Cornelius; http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/the-church-and-israel-the-issue/ ↩
With the exception of the Calvinist doctrines of divine election and limited atonement. For further discussion of this issue, read the article archived on this site: “Does God Choose Us, Or Do We Choose Him?” ↩
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. ↩
Romans 16:25; Col 1:26 ↩
Eph. 1:4 ↩
Ref. Zech. 14:11; Isaiah 60:3,10,11,12 ↩
Isa 2:4 ↩
Deut 11:24 ↩
Eph. 3:2 ↩
1 Cor. 15:1-4 ↩
1 Cor. 15:3,4; Rom. 4:25; Acts 16:31 ↩