It’s becoming increasingly popular in Bible-believing churches today to assert that God has replaced Israel with the church. Some believe that the Lord rejected Israel while others see the church as somehow the spiritual fulfillment of the kingdom promises made to Israel.
This teaching is often referred to as “replacement theology.” I have many problems with such teaching starting the words of Paul in Romans 11:2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” I am not sure how some get around Paul’s clear assertion in this text that God has not replaced or rejected Israel.
Besides the fact that this teaching contradicts Paul’s words in Romans 11, there is a more fundamental reason for discarding replacement theology: such teaching undermines the credibility of God.
No, I am not out of mind (although some of you might think so by now). Allow me to explain.
God Made Many Great Promises to Israel
Throughout the Old Testament, God made many promises to Israel based on the covenants He made with the Patriarchs.
The Lord said that the coming Messiah would one day reign on the throne of David (Isa. 9:6-7). The prophet Isaiah expanded on this theme throughout his book. A couple chapters later he predicted a righteous rule over the world from a future descendent of King David, undoubtedly Jesus (11:1-5; 32:1). Zechariah prophesied that one day the Lord would “be king over all the earth” during which time the nations of the world would come to Jerusalem to worship Jesus (14:9-21).
Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord announced that is long as the sun gives light and the fixed order of the moon and stars remain, Israel will be a nation in His sight (49:35-40). The latter verses in this passage make it clear that this is a reference to a physical Jerusalem as the capital of this nation.
In Psalm 105:8-11, the Lord leaves no doubt as to the eternal nature of His covenant of the Land with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. While Israel’s enjoyment of the land depended upon her obedience, the promise of the Land to Israel came from an “everlasting covenant,” one that was unconditional at the time the Lord made it with Abram in Genesis 15:12-21.
God Made the Promises Knowing Israel Would Reject Jesus
Did God know about Israel’s rejection of the Messiah when He promised that “the Lord will be king over all the earth” reigning from Jerusalem (Zech. 14:9-21)? Absolutely! How could He not know?
Just two chapters earlier, the prophet Zechariah wrote this, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (12:10). Before predicting Jesus’ rule over all the earth, Zechariah prophesied that the people of Israel will look upon the Savior they crucified with the result of a huge outpouring of repentance and weeping (12:10-13:1).
Do not miss this: after prophesying that the Jews would be responsible for piercing the Messiah, the Lord through the prophet said that one day the Messiah would rule over all the earth (Zech. 14:9)..
When God promised a great kingdom to Israel, He knew the people would reject the Messiah leading to His crucifixion. This is clear from Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.
The Lord made all His marvelous promises to Israel knowing full well the nation would reject His Son, which would lead to His crucifixion.
Did God Renege on His Covenant with Israel?
If God has rejected Israel or even simply replaced her, it means He did so despite knowing all about Jesus’ crucifixion when He made His kingdom promises to Israel.
Why would the Lord fill the Old Testament with promises for Israel and her kingdom if He knew they would reject His Son, which would lead to His casting them aside? Or, why would He make grand promises to Israel if He knew He would replace her? What does say about His character?
No, God can never renege on His promises to Israel. He has not rejected her! He has not replaced here with the church! To do either of these would undermine His credibility, the very holy nature of His name.
Is this not what the Lord proclaimed in Ezekiel 36:22-23 as His key motive for restoring Israel, “Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.”
The Lord has already begun fulfilling His words in Ezekiel 36-37. It’s all a part of His great steadfast love for Israel and sanctity of His name as a covenant keeping God!
The will someday fully restore the kingdom to Israel to demonstrate that He is a God who keeps His word! The Lord will also keep His promises to us. As His children, we are absolutely secure in His steadfast love!
The Lord will never renege on His promises to Israel. He will never renege on His promises to us as New Testament saints!