A Chose Generation
What do you think of present day Israel? Does the nation have a right to exist in the present day world?
I am constantly amazed that so much of the news these days is focused on a postage-stamp sized piece of land in the Middle East. Israel is currently about the size of New Jersey or about 11% of the size of North Dakota. Many people feel strongly that Israel has no right to exist a nation. Among the strongest of this group are the Islamic nations.
But surprisingly, perhaps a majority of Christians also holds the view that God is finished with the Jews. They believe that the Jews disappointed God and that He has turned the promises to the Jews over to the Christians. This viewpoint is called replacement theology.
A common proof-text for replacement theology is 1 Peter 2:9-10:
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
“Many scholars claim that this passage indicates that the Church replaces Israel in God’s program, that the Church is the “New Israel,” and that ethnic Israel has significance in God’s plans only as it is incorporated into the Church that replaces Israel.”
The true nature of this passage
This is not what this passage is saying at all. Peter is writing to the Jews who have been scattered abroad. He is saying to them that they are a chosen race, royal priesthood, and a holy nation. The Jews who have trusted in Christ are a set apart group—a people of God. These terms are perfectly acceptable for describing the present remnant of Israel—for Jewish believers during the current Church age.
The passage seems to now expand the idea of the “chosen people” beyond just Israel so as to include Gentile believers. Christians as a whole are now a special people because God has preserved them for Himself. Fruchtenbaum writes, “Again, Peter is not referring to the Church as a whole. The Church is not a race of people but is comprised of believers of all races. Nevertheless, the Jewish people are a race in the biblical sense, and the Jewish believers are the elect race.” There is no hint in Peter’s writing that he is addressing the Church as a whole—he is addressing the Jewish believers as a remnant of Israel. Thus, as Fruchtenbaum points out, “the contrast is between the Remnant and the Non-Remnant of Israel.
Peter’s ultimate point is that though Israel failed as a whole in fulfilling its calling, the Remnant of Israel has not failed to fulfill its calling. This passage is showing that some in the lineage of Judaism have remained faithful to God.
We learn from other passages that God is not finished with Israel and that the Church does not replace Israel.
The Church Does Not Replace Israel
Romans 11 provides important teaching regarding the place Israel has in the heart of God. The wild olive tree is an image that represents the believing Gentiles (Gentile Christians). The Gentiles are enjoying the spiritual blessings of the Jewish covenants since salvation is from the Jews (John 4:22). They have been grafted into the cultivated olive tree, which represents Israel. Normally, the branch from the cultivated olive tree would be grafted into the wild olive tree (botanically speaking). However, in this case God is grafting the branch from the wild olive tree into Israel, because the holiness of the root is passed on to the graft. This relates to Abraham as the “father of all who believe (Rom 4:11-12, 16-17).”
The olive tree represents the place of spiritual blessing and the Gentiles have become partakers with the Jewish believers of Jewish spiritual blessings. The partial blindness of Rom 11:25 refers to the partial hardening of Israel. It is partial because there is still a remnant (i.e. those who come to Christ in faith). It is also temporary until the fullness of the Gentiles is reached. This is a mystery because this is the first time that we learn the hardening of Israel will endure until a set number of Gentiles is reached. Once this set number is reached, then the mystery will be complete.
The time of the Gentiles will continue until Christ’s return at the end of the Great Tribulation. However, Christ will not return until Israel as a nation asks Him to return (Matt 23:39). When Paul stated “all Israel,” he meant all Jews living at that time, not all Jews of all time. Paul related Israel’s future national salvation with its present status in Rom 11:26-29. God’s promise to Israel is forever (see Isa 59:20-21; 27:9) therefore, it will come to be. Thus, I believe that at the end of the tribulation, the Jews will, as a nation repent, and there will be national salvation.
These truths are important because (1) they demonstrate that Israel has a future in God’s plan, (2) they demonstrate that the Church cannot serve as a replacement for the Israel in the Old Testament, (3) they provide the Gentile believers with assurance that they have been made a part of God’s kingdom plan complete with the blessing of God, and (4) they provide believers a word of caution to remain humble before God.
Your stand with Israel
I believe strongly that the Church is distinct from Israel; therefore, I reject any form of replacement theology. God has a future plan for Israel. I believe much confusion exists over this issue because many of the doctrines taught in the church today originated before the 1948 reestablishment of Israel. Before that event, no one could foresee the reunification of the Jews in their own nation, thus a substitute theology was formed, i.e. eventually formulated in replacement theology. As a result, many Christians today do not see a future for Israel in God’s kingdom plan. I see a great future for them in a literal kingdom with Christ sitting on the throne.
If you stand with the majority of people today, you see no importance in the existence of the Jewish state. But God does. To stand with God is to stand by Israel. This is not a popular position, but it is the Biblical position. We have been studying Isaiah for quite some time. We just looked at Isaiah 27:2-6. It says, “In that day sing to her, “A vineyard of red wine! I, the Lord, keep it, I water it every moment; Lest any hurt it, I keep it night and day. Fury is not in Me. Who would set briers and thorns Against Me in battle? I would go through them, I would burn them together. Or let him take hold of My strength, That he may make peace with Me; And he shall make peace with Me.” Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, And fill the face of the world with fruit.”
This is a very difficult passage, but I believe it is saying that a day will come in which the Lord’s anger will subside. If people stand against Israel, God will defend Israel. God prefers, however, that people make peace with Him so they can join with Israel in security and fruitfulness.
Ultimately, this passage is saying that the day is coming for the national restoration of Israel. They will as a nation repent. The end is that they are again the “chosen people.”
Are you standing with Israel against the rest of the world?
Don’t fall into the world’s trap by turning away from the clear teaching of the Bible. Israel does have a place in God’s future plan. They will serve to evangelize the world during the Tribulation. They will play a major role in government during the Millennial Kingdom reign of Christ. The Moody Bible Commentary.
 Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. The Messianic Jewish Epistles: Hebrews, James, First Peter, Second Peter, Jude. 1st ed. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2005. Print.