Category Archives: Israel

Yom Hashoah

tatoo

Chip owned the local deli in my neighborhood. He made the best sandwiches. Sometimes he would even slip in a piece of bacon. When he layered on the condiments you might catch a glimpse of the mark upon his left arm. As he rang up the sale and bagged your order it was clearly visible. It would never go away — nor the memories that haunted him night and day.

Auschwitz was the only concentration camp where prisoners received a tattoo. So many thousands died there that it became impossible to maintain identification records. The SS began tattooing prisoners in 1941 except those who were sent directly to the gas chambers.

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) falls on the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. That corresponds to Monday, April 24, 2017.

Please take a moment to remember.

[Yad Vashem –The World Holocaust Remembrance Center]

Copyright © 2017 Eternal Christ

Not a Christmas Message

Editor: If Christians were Christians there would still be anti-Semitism, but point taken.

On Christmas Eve last year, David Lazarus posted an article at Israel Today regarding a declaration from 25 Orthodox Rabbis “welcoming the carpenter from Nazareth back into the Jewish fold”.

What these esteemed religious teachers had to say is very encouraging. Interestingly, the Pharisees accused Jesus and his disciples of breaking the Law of Moses (specifically, observing the Sabbath). This makes the following statement even more significant:

Jesus brought a double goodness to the world. On the one hand he strengthened the Torah of Moses majestically … and not one of our Sages spoke out more emphatically concerning the immutability of the Torah (and) he removed idols from the nations.

After nearly two millennia of mutual hostility and alienation, we Orthodox Rabbis who lead communities, institutions and seminaries in Israel, the United States and Europe … seek to do the will of our Father in Heaven by accepting the hand offered to us by our Christian brothers and sisters.

As did Maimonides and Yehudah Halevi, we acknowledge that Christianity is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations. In separating Judaism and Christianity, G-d willed a separation between partners with significant theological differences, not a separation between enemies.

What we understand about the complex relationship between Jews and Gentiles with regards to the person of Jesus Christ is that religious Israel never denied Jesus, in the sense of his personage, but only questioned his authority:

After their return to Jerusalem, Jesus was walking in the temple courts, and the chief priests, scribes, and elders came up to Him asking, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You the authority to do them?” Mark 11:27-28

The religious leaders did not even deny the miracles that Jesus performed, but blasphemed the Holy Spirit by saying that it was not by the power of G-d’s spirit that Jesus cast out demons, but by the will of Beelzebul (Matthew 12:23-24).

The most rabid atheists I know do not deny the person of Jesus Christ. Some will even say he was a wise man but, like Israel, they reject any claims of his Divine nature. Oh, how many times have I heard it said that Jesus is the G-d of the Gentiles?

No prophet is accepted in his own country (Luke 4:24).

So, this statement by 25 Orthodox Rabbis is quite revealing of how G-d’s spirit is moving over the land of Israel. In his article, Lazarus quoted Rabbi Eugene Korn ( Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation):

This proclamation’s breakthrough is that influential Orthodox rabbis across all centers of Jewish life have finally acknowledged that … Christianity and Judaism have much in common spiritually and practically. Given our toxic history, this is unprecedented in Orthodoxy.

Last Christmas, Rabbi David Wolpe wrote an article for Time magazine. Titled, A Jewish View of Christmas, Wolpe reminisced about his mentor Elieser Slomovic who lost many family members in the Holocaust.

Slomovic was able to escape the horror of WWII, and made his way to America where he thought he might be killed for being a Jew. Christians need to understand the historical fear and suspicion that the Jewish people feel towards them. It is a difficult hurdle to cross when, for 2000 years, and with the blessing of the Church, Jews have been condemned as being the killers of Jesus.

Who killed Jesus?

No man takes (my life) from me; I am laying it down of my own will, for I am authorized to lay it down, and I am authorized to receive it again; this commandment I have received from my Father (John 10:18).

Rabbi Slomovic, haunted by fear and the horrors of anti-Semitism, was somewhat reluctant to accept an invitation to an inter-faith dinner. When he arrived at the affair, Wolpe recalled that Slomovic tried to keep a low profile, but the Rabbi cried when the host pastor delivered the blessing:

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz.

Wolpe commented:

Elieser got tears in his eyes. That a Christian would pay tribute to Jesus’ Jewish origins and begin with a Hebrew blessing was something he never thought to hear in his lifetime. America really was different.

In closing, the 25 Rabbis noted the G-d willed separation between Jews and Christians. From Paul’s letter to the Romans we learn there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, but that Israel has been hardened until the fullness of the Gentiles is complete.

The Rabbis’ declaration is a sign from G-d that the Holy Spirit is softening the heart of Israel — that the redemptive hand of the LORD is moving over His people. With regard to the fullness of the Gentiles I would only recite Paul’s warning that you not be conceited for Jesus is the root, Israel is the tree, and you are a grafted branch.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech haolam, Hamotzi lechem min haaretz. Blessed are you O Lord our G-d, Sovereign of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

G-d’s will be done until that glorious day when all of Israel shall be saved. That is a joyful message for any season.

Copyright © 2016 Messiah Gate

Rosh Hashanah

Pomegranate_Image

As you read this understand that the LORD, blessed be His name, loves Israel. And I love Israel — enough to speak the truth and overturn some carts.

Three things struck me this day that have churned my soul, and I must write about them as the LORD has so inspired. (This will stub some people’s toes, but it must be shared.)

I was reading the Jewish Press — an article by Yoram Ettinger — about Rosh Hashanah (Hag Sameach). Though not mentioned in the Torah it is a celebration of the Jewish New Year (5776).

There were some interesting bites of information. For example: Why is the pomegranate — engraved on the Ark and sewn on the coat of the High Priest — a featured item at the Holiday meal?

There are 613 genetic seeds in a pomegranate reflecting the 613 statutes of the ceremonial Law, and a customary blessing is typically recited over the meal:

May you be credited with as many rewards as the seeds of the pomegranate.

Comments are welcomed at the end of the JP article with the exception of those that promote foreign religions, gods or messiahs. More on that later.

Having read the article I then climbed aboard the Bible Bus for my daily study with J. Vernon McGee. He began the session by saying that the Abrahamic Covenant has not yet been fulfilled. McGee is at odds with many Dispensationalists who see, at least, a partial fulfillment in 1948 when Israel became a state.

Later, I was watching Greg Laurie, and he carried on with the theme that God’s promise to Abraham has not been fulfilled. What was the promise God made to Abram?

In Genesis 15 the LORD promised Abram an heir (Isaac), and that his seed will possess the land. Abram offered a sacrifice unto God, and while he slept the LORD passed between the carcasses thus affirming His covenant.

In ancient days, two men would validate a mutual agreement by walking between the halves of a slain animal. The LORD put Abram into a deep sleep, and He walked alone between the pieces thus suggesting that the covenant was unilateral, irrevocable and everlasting.

Dispensationalism teaches that the land promise will not be fulfilled until the Messiah returns to establish the Millennial kingdom and reign upon the earthly throne of David in Jerusalem — a fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant (Jeremiah 33:17). 

Okay, take a deep breath because what I am about to say will cause some to throw stones. Please hear me out because this is historic Christianity — not revisionist evangelicalism.

I believe the land covenant was fulfilled in the days of Joshua (3500 years ago), and that the Messiah is now reigning on the throne of David.

Jesus Christ said that He came to fulfill the Law and Prophets (Matthew 5:17). All of Jewish history pointed to a singular culmination — the coming of Mashiach. Like the Christians, Jews believe in two comings, but it gets complicated. Mashiach ben Yosef is a descendant of Joseph who will prepare the way for Mashiach ben David who will then reign eternally upon the throne of King David.

The zealots — even some of the disciples — thought that Jesus had come to restore the kingdom to Israel even though He said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36).

This is the stumbling block for Jews. Christ came the first time, but was rejected by His people. He will come again in great glory taking vengeance on those who know Him not (2 Thessalonians 1:8).

Understand what I am saying. All has been fulfilled except the Second Coming of Christ which, according to Jesus, will be on the last day — not pre, mid or post but, as Peter wrote, the day of the Lord which will come like a thief in the night to destroy the heavens and earth with fire. All will be removed (you can call it raptured) — some to eternal life and the rest to eternal judgement. Then the new heavens and earth will descend and the saints will live forevermore in the presence of our Lord and Savior. Blessed be His name. (John 6:39, John 6:40, John 6:44, John 6:54, and 2 Peter 3:10).

What about the land promise? Written between 1400 and 1370 B.C. we find the answer in the Old Testament book of Joshua:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it (Joshua 21:43).

You know the history. The Jews are in bondage in Egypt … Moses leads them through the wilderness for forty years … and Joshua provides the details of their conquest and possession of the Promised Land.

Dispensationalists will say that the Jews did not physically occupy all of the land therefore God’s promise to Abraham has not been fulfilled. When the LORD promised to return the captives of Babylonian exile only a remnant came home. Many were comfortable with their adapted lives and chose to remain in Babylon.

No. You can’t be a literalist and then deny a matter-of-fact declaration. Consider this scenario: A father promises his son that when he turns sixteen he will give him the family sedan. The son turns sixteen and his father transfers title, but the son — for whatever reason — doesn’t take possession of the vehicle. Has the father fulfilled the promise he made to his son? Certainly.

I will not split hairs over the meaning of take and possess, (Heb. lakad, yarash). Judah fared well in taking and possessing their inheritance while the northern tribes had difficulty with the Jebusites who were quite tenacious.

In any case, Jesus Christ has fulfilled both the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants. Don’t believe me? Would you believe Luke and Peter?

Read Peter’s sermon as recorded by Luke in Acts 2.

It is the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit has been poured out which Peter cites, by the way, as a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:16) — you know, the one about blood moons, a darkened sun, signs and wonders (Joel 2:28-32) — the prophecy that, according to Dispensationalists, has yet to be fulfilled. Hagee and Cahn are making lots of money selling books on this false teaching.

Joel was using symbolic imagery to convey a prophetic word from God. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Revelation utilize the same customary style. For example, in describing the destruction of Babylon, Isaiah wrote:

For the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light; The sun will be dark when it rises and the moon will not shed its light (Isaiah 13:10).

The heavenly imagery depicts cataclysmic events, or prophetic fulfillment upon the earth, and is the literary style of ancient Hebrew text.

Peter then addresses the Jews who believed that King David would return to sit on his throne in Jerusalem. They glean this from Psalm 16:10 where David says that the LORD will not abandon his soul in Hades nor allow His Holy One to undergo decay — an unmistakable reference to Jesus Christ.

David died, was buried and his tomb, said Peter, is with us to this day (Acts 2:29). David isn’t coming back to reign for the prophesy was not about him but the resurrected Son of God.

When David speaks in Psalm 110:1 about the LORD saying to my Lord, sit at My right hand, he is speaking not of himself, said Peter, but of the Mashiach.

Peter was making the case that Jesus Christ is sitting on the throne of David:

Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ– this Jesus whom you crucified (Acts 2:36). 

As Peter revealed that Christ is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant, Paul declared that the promise made by God to Abraham had been fulfilled in this same Jesus:

Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ (Galatians 3:16). 

Paul explains that God’s promise to Abram came 430 years before the Law was delivered to Moses. The Law does not nullify the promise which was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Because Abram was deemed righteous through faith so are Jews and Gentiles counted righteous — not by the Law which came later — but by their faith in the One who fulfilled the Law, that is, Jesus Christ of Nazareth (Galatians 3).

Brethren, we have a problem. I have dared to speak so boldly of Christ at this time of holiday because Israel needs to hear the Gospel that would otherwise be censured.

Citing the aforementioned Jewish Press, understand that Israel (the Jewish people) have rejected Jesus Christ and His atonement. They are in rebellion against the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The olive tree and grape-vine (symbolic of the nation of Israel) are presented afresh in the B’rit Chadasha:

But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree — some of the people of Israel — have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree ((Romans 11:17 — NLT).

With regards to Israel being the vine, Jesus said, I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser (John 15:1). 

Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it (Matthew 21:43). 

McGee and Laurie deride this as Replacement Theology — that the ‘church’ has replaced Israel in God’s plan of redemption. Reformers (such as myself) refer to it as Covenant Theology, that is, Old Testament promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ just as the LORD revealed through His prophet (Jeremiah 31:31). Conversely, some evangelicals teach a two-step plan of redemption — one for Gentiles, another for Israel. No, there is only one plan of salvation and that is through Jesus Christ (John 14:6).

The problem is that Dispensationalism has embraced an almost idolatrous love affair with Israel. How did Paul define Israel?

… they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants … (Romans 9:6-7).

For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter (Law); and his praise is not from men, but from God (Romans 2:28-29).

If you, who are Gentile, have been grafted in then you are a Jew, a descendant of Abraham — a High Priest and a Holy nation, God’s very own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

True Israel — the vine being Jesus Christ — consists of believing Jews and Gentiles who have been declared righteous by their faith in Yeshua HaMashiach …

… and in this way all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).

Stop watching the fig tree and blood moons for your salvation, and keep your eyes on the Lord.

Okay, you can breathe now.

Suggested Reading:

Want to know more about Dispensational Theology? Read our series beginning with the 70 Weeks of Daniel.

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Copyright © 2015 Messiah Gate

Dispense the Truth

(Revised 08-25-14, 11:15 am)

In the comment board of Who is Israel?, I posted a supplemental thought which sort of morphed into this article detailing the problematic theology of  Dispensationalism. Those comments — with additional notes — are reprinted here:

A well-known Bible teacher made a comment on his widely listened to radio program that the Olivet Discourse — more specifically, Matthew 24 — has not been fulfilled. I listen to this man every day, and will continue to do so, but his comment raised my eyebrows. This beloved and highly regarded pastor graduated from the Dallas Theological Seminary (est. 1924) which teaches a dispensational brand of Christianity innovated by John Nelson Darby (ca. 1800 – 1882), and codified by the Scofield reference Bible (published 1909; revised 1917).

There are dispensational pastors who adhere to the essentials of Christian doctrine even while Darby’s tenets have been inculcated into the general assembly, and become common thought. Essentially, the “church age” is nothing but a parenthesis in God’s plan of salvation. When Israel rejected Christ, the church became God’s “Plan B”. To suppose that God did not foresee Israel’s rejection and, thus, had to alter His original covenant is at least suspect. It is popularly taught that when the fullness of the Gentiles is made complete, God will rapture the church and resume His dealings with Israel — a two-stage redemption (Romans 11:25-26).

No, I believe that God’s plan is unfolding according to Scripture. Certainly, the early church fathers did not subscribe to Darby’s interpretation. And to suggest that Matthew 24 is not yet fulfilled — at least in part, though I believe Christ foretold events that unfolded in that generation (Matthew 24:34) — is a glaring example of hyper-dispensationalism which adopts a futurist view of prophesy.

If the Book of Revelation, for example, is not understood within the context of the whole Bible one can interpret that the church will be removed, God will deal with Israel during a Millennial reign and there will be multiple comings of Christ. The radio pastor said he can see 3 or 4 comings of Christ. Several times in John’s gospel, however, Christ said He will return on the last day (John 6:40). He doesn’t come to rapture the church, then to establish His kingdom, then to reign for 1000 years, and so on. The Second Advent of Christ will bring judgement to both the living and the dead (2 Timothy 4:1). Few will be raised to eternal life (in the new heaven and earth), while many are condemned to everlasting punishment.

That the humble (God’s people) will inherit the earth was understood, even by the Jews during the time of Christ, as an inheritance of the land of Canaan. The Messiah would restore God’s kingdom at His coming. The disciples, not understanding, asked Jesus after His resurrection if He was going to establish the kingdom at that time (Acts 1:6). They still didn’t perceive that His kingdom was not of this realm (John 18:36).

The church fathers understood that the land of Canaan was a type of heaven — that Christ’s blessings were spiritual, not carnal. Paul spiritualized Old Testament promises when he said that not all who are descended from Israel are Israel (Romans 9:6). Under the New Covenant, Israel is not a geographic place, but a body of believers — both Jew and Gentile (in Christ) — who will inherit not the type (Canaan), but a regenerated, incorruptible earth.

While true Israel is anticipating the Second Coming, and looking forward to setting up residence in the New Jerusalem, our dispensational brothers are gazing at blood moons and expecting the restoration of Solomon’s Temple with all of its ceremony, rituals and animal sacrifices. Ephraimites hold to this doctrine. That is why this blog is not called by its original title, Ephraim’s Gate, because Christ is the unique focus of the Bible, not Israel.

At its core, Darby’s interpretation — not maliciously, I think — denies the power of the Gospel to save men’s souls as evidenced by the example of a well-known pastor in San Antonio who unashamedly preaches the dispensational slant that God has two plans of salvation — one for the Jews and another for the Gentiles.

Christ died for all people, or His sacrifice upon the cross was in vain.

Darbyism, Millerism, Mormonism, Adventism and the Witnessess all took seed in the 19th century — an age when the “church” was going through an identity crisis having become impatient waiting on the imminent return of Messiah. These doctrines — heresies to some extent — have sown confusion and dissension into the body of Christ.

The understanding of the church fathers — to which I subscribe — is profaned as Covenant, or Replacement theology. I have not replaced anyone, but I am fulfilled (as any believing Jew or Gentile) in Christ Jesus.

The Apostle Paul, in a letter to the assembly at Corinth, wrote that he decided to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul warned Timothy about those who teach strange doctrines that give way to speculation; and he exhorted the Romans to beware contrary teaching that sows division (1 Timothy 1:3, Romans 16:17). All of the Bible must be interpreted within the context of Jesus Christ — the revelation and fulfillment of God’s plan of redemption — notwithstanding the doctrines of men.

[Editor’s Note: Dispensationalism teaches that Daniel 9:27 is a prophesy of the future Antichrist making a covenant with Israel, breaking his promise and leaving the temple desolate. However, the church fathers (Clement, Origen, Tertullian, Augustine, Julius and Eusebius) adopted a Messianic interpretation of Daniel 9 — concluding that the prophesy was fulfilled in the first century. Interestingly, the Jews also held to this view until the temple was made desolate by the Romans in AD 70. Will the temple have to be rebuilt only to be left desolate once again? Read the words of Jesus in Matthew 23:38and as you study these passages in Daniel remember that Messiah is the subject, context and antecedent of this very difficult chapter. Ask yourself, who was the (anointed) Holy One that made an end to sin, finished the transgression, ushered in everlasting righteousness, and was made reconciliation for iniquity? The toughest question may be, who caused the sacrifices to cease? May the Holy Spirit give you wisdom to understand. See our post, 70 Weeks of Daniel.]

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Copyright © 2014 Messiah Gate

Who is Israel?

(revised 08-06-14, 9:30 am)

There have been no recent posts on Messiah Gate as I’ve been immersed in the study of God’s land promise including this seven-part study linked at Fundamentally Reformed.

Was the land promise fulfilled as declared with certainty in Joshua 21:43-45? Dispensationalists say, no — that the land promise is yet to be fulfilled in modern Israel. But how can some deny what Joshua confirmed — that the LORD gave to Israel all that He promised their fathers?

That promise conveyed to Abraham was then transferred to his seed, Jesus Christ, according to Paul in Galatians 3:16  — and extended to all the nations as so stated in Galatians 3:8. (See also Romans 9:6, Romans 2:28-29.)

Those within the church who criticize spiritual eschatology have not only a problem with New Testament writers, but even Jesus Christ who spiritualized the Old Testament through parables. Indeed, there are Christians who dismiss the Pauline epistles, and who claim that the Apostle was a false prophet sent by Satan to deceive the world. They are looking for the physical restoration of the land of Israel with a re-built temple and animal sacrifices — all of which denies the redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

The ultimate land promise, however, is that the meek will inherit the whole earth (Matthew 5:5, Psalm 37:11) though many Bible commentators understand that this is not an inheritance of a carnal realm, but heavenly:

The blessing instanced, in which they shall partake of, is, they shall inherit the earth; not the land of Canaan, though that may be alluded to; nor this world, at least in its present situation; for this is not the saints’ rest and inheritance: but rather, the “new earth”, which will be after this is burnt up; in which only such persons as are here described shall dwell; and who shall inherit it, by virtue of their being heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; whose is the earth, and the fullness thereof (Gills Exposition of the Bible).

The Old Testament is typology — Jesus Christ is the reality. Dispensationalism is a stumbling block to this ultimate truth. 

Double fulfillment of prophesy is a dispensational tool that is at least problematic. Jesus clearly did not believe (as is commonly taught) that the “Abomination of Desolation” was fulfilled at the time of Antiochus Epiphanes (167 BC) when He interpreted Daniel’s prophecy in Matthew 24:15 — a reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

As Milton S. Terry wrote in his book Biblical Hermeneutics:

…the moment we admit the principle that portions of Scripture contain a double sense, we introduce an element of uncertainty in the Sacred Volume, and unsettle all (hermeneutic) interpretation. If Scripture has more than one meaning, it has no meaning at all. I hold that the words of Scripture were intended to have one definite sense and that our first objective should be to discover that sense, and adhere to it rigidly. [see note 1]

We might also consider this passage from the Gospel of Matthew:

I tell you, the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation that will produce the proper fruit (Mt 21:43).

Here, Christ our Lord tells Israel that the Kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to a nation — that is, Gentiles — who will produce the fruits thereof.

Our dispensational brothers call this Replacement Theology — a heresy, they claim. Would they say that Jesus was a heretic? Well, the Pharisees thought so.

As well, followers of John Nelson Darby might re-examine their interpretation of Revelation. Will Jesus literally reign 1000 years over a carnal world? He said, My kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). Clearly, the thousand years is Biblical symbolism for the completeness of the age between the two Advents of Christ during which time our Lord is reigning in heaven with the souls of the departed saints who died in Him (Revelation 20:4).

It would take a millennium — hyperbole intended — to cleanse the body of Christ of, essentially, the fanciful doctrines of men.

When Christ said, I am the true vine (John 15:1), He boldly declared that He is Israel for the vine is an Old Testament reference to God’s holy nation (Psalm 80:8, 14-15) which today comprises both believing Jews and Gentiles who, by grace, have been grafted into the body of Christ — similarly described as an olive tree (Jeremiah 11:16).

(NLT) But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree — some of the people of Israel — have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree (Romans 11:17-18).

That all Israel will be saved, according to Paul (Romans 11:26), has always been understood as the LORD having preserved a remnant of believing Jews that, together with elect Gentiles, comprise a holy nation that will dwell eternally in the new Jerusalem. It is granted that how the Bible has been historically understood is at odds with some evangelicals who — like the zealots that wanted to coronate Jesus — are looking for a carnal fulfillment of prophesy. And it does influence how we interpret not only the Bible, but our understanding of world events especially with regard to Israel. (See our post, The Preemie Gospel).

Hear me, my brothers. All of scripture points to Jesus Christ. He is the fulfillment of the Law and prophets. If we don’t understand this we miss the central theme of the Gospel.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16). 

And the Son offered Himself back to the Father as a perfect, pleasing sacrifice wholly acceptable for the remission of sin. 

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (John 6:54). 

The Gospel message is an amazing covenant of grace and mercy that you can receive by putting your faith and hope in Jesus Christ. He confounded the religious leaders of His day, and continues to be a stumbling block for many Christians (two thousand years later) who don’t understand the meaning of the last day.

There will be a last trump of the last day (at the end of time) when Christ returns to claim His bride [rapture, see note 2], and incinerate the physical universe. Then, the new heaven and new earth — adorned to perfection — will welcome us home into the arms of an awesome God and glorious Savior.

Where Israel is only the type, the Kingdom of God is the fulfillment. Come to the cross and receive Jesus — for now is the day of your salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Next: My Hebrew Brother

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Notes:

[1.] Milton S. Terry, Biblical Hermeneutics (New York: Easton ; Mains, 1883), p. 383.

[2.] 1 Corinthians 15:51-53, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17

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Have You Replaced Abraham?

From the Book of Romans:

I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. [Rom 11:1]

There is an errant teaching within the body of Christ that the “church” has replaced Israel in God’s plan of salvation. It is taught that the LORD’s promises to Israel have been rescinded; that His covenant with the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is null and void; that YHWH has transferred His blessings to the “church”, and that the physical state of Israel is no longer in the will of God.

Consider what this means. Israel, then, has no rightful claim to the ancient land of Judea nor the capital city of Jerusalem. How would this affect the politics of the Middle East if it were true that Israel had no legitimate right to exist? If the land was ceded to the Palestinians would there have been the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the greater war on terror, or even the attacks on 9/11?

Has the “church” replaced Israel, and is this what Replacement theologians teach?

Dispensationalists believe that Israel is front and center with regards to end times prophecy. They believe the “church” will be raptured before the Great Tribulation begins, and that God will turn His attention once again to the people, and land, of Israel. Jerusalem will be restored, and the temple rebuilt. The people will take possession of all the land promised to the physical seed of Abraham; and God will destroy Satan in one great battle of Armageddon.

As we’ve noted in previous articles the “church” did not teach dispensational theology until the 19th century when it was introduced by John Nelson Darby, an Anglo-Irish evangelist. The doctrine of imminent return (see our post, The Return of Christ) had worn thin after so many centuries had passed with no visible sign of Messiah’s return.

The MilleritesRussellitesAdventists and Jehovah’s Witnessess sought to revive the doctrine of imminent return by focusing their teaching on the Second Coming of Christ. Charles Taze Russell, for example, taught that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1874.

Understand that Dispensationalists similarly believe the Replacement view that the people of Israel and the “church” are two distinct groups, but dispensationalism teaches that God will fulfill His promises to Israel after the “church” is raptured. One of these promises is the land promise given to Isaac and Jacob through Abraham. YHWH had ceded Israel a great inheritance from Arabia to Syria, from the Euphrates to the Nile and from the Eastern Desert to the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, they possess only a slice of the land given to them by YHWH, and are under intense political pressure to surrender even more of their territory in exchange for peace.

Popular theology, taught by pastors such as John Hageesuggests that Israel, because of rebellion and captivity, never occupied their inheritance fully, but will do so in the end times. Thus, they see the birth of Israel (by U.N. proclamation in 1948) as a sign that God’s promise is coming to pass; and even take the following scripture out of context to prove their flawed eschatology:

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Truly I say to you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. [Mt 24:32-34]

Some believe that the countdown to the last day began in 1948, and that the generation (genea) spoken of by Christ are the people who were alive at the time Israel was restored. Because the Psalmist suggests that a generation is 70-80 years (Ps 90:10) this means that the last day could occur as early as 2018. Of course, this reasoning is flawed because Jesus was speaking precisely to His generation who lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem.

With regards to Israel possessing the land we read in the Tanakh that the children of God did, in fact, possess the land:

So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. [Jos 21:43]

It is true that they never possessed Tyre and Sidon, nor completely dispossessed the pagans who dwelt there, nor destroyed the molten images and altars of false gods as the LORD commanded Moses (Num 33:51-53). YHWH warned Moshe that the inhabitants left remaining would be as pricks in your eyes and as thorns in your sides, and they will trouble you in the land in which you live (Num 33:55). That is so true even to this day.

If a father promises to his son the family car upon the son’s graduation, but the son does not take possession of the car, it does not alter in any way the father’s promise. We must understand, as well, that God’s covenant with Israel was conditioned upon their obedience and faithfulness. Their rebellion led to Israel’s captivity under Assyria, and Judah’s captivity by the Babylonians.

Even so during the reign of David, and his son Solomon, the kingdom did expand from the Euphrates River even to the land of the Philistines (what is today the Palestinian territory of Gaza), and as far as the border of Egypt (2Chr 9:26).

The catch is if we don’t see the fulfillment of Matthew 24 in the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD) then we must project those things that were to happen in that generation (Mt 24:34) to a future generation much further out.

So the dispensationalists will look for signs of the resurrected earthly kingdom of Israel (1948), but ignore the very clear statement of our Lord that His kingdom is not of this world (Jn 18:36). Christ is sitting on the throne of David—not in Jerusalem—but in heaven at the right hand of the Father.

Paul asks a fundamental question, Did God reject His people? The Hebrew word used here means to cast off, or push away. The apostle reminded his readers of Elijah’s lament that he was the only man of God left alive:

He said, “I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” [1Ki 19:10]

The LORD reminded Elijah, as Paul reminds us, that He has always preserved a remnant of the seed of Abraham. In Elijah’s day they numbered only 7,000. If we consider that 100 billion people have been born since the beginning of time it is a wonder that any of us will be saved, but by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ we are born again.

Read and study Romans chapter 11 carefully and you will learn that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25). What does this mean? One Bible commentator said that it means until the abundance or the great multitude of the Gentiles shall be converted. We cannot even guesstimate what number that might be. The Pew Institute computes that there are 2.18 billion Christians in the world—about a third of the world’s 7 billion people. Does that number seem small? Yeshua said that only a few will walk the narrow path that leads to life:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [Mt 7:13-14]

Sadly, not everyone sitting in a pew is going to heaven. Examine yourselves carefully for the train bound for glory can leave the station at any moment…in the twinkling of an eye (1Co 15:52).

The blindness of Israel has opened the door of redemption to the Gentiles who, by faith, are grafted into the olive tree which represents the spiritual, not physical, state of Israel. By their transgression, Paul writes, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make the descendants of Abraham jealous (Rom 11:11).

And who are the sons of Abraham?

Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham (Gal 3:7).

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. [Ro 4:16]

Gentiles do not replace Abraham, but are his spiritual sons by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. But you who are grafted in must not boast, or be in any manner arrogant lest you, too, be broken off (Ro 11:17-21). This is a mystery, writes Paul, that by God’s grace all Israel (both Jew and Greek) will be saved.

To really understand this mystery we must disassociate the material promise of the Abrahamic covenant and recognize that God’s blessings were fulfilled in Jesus Christ so that Gentiles might receive the promise of the Spirit by faith (Gal 3:14).

Replacement theology is so-called by many dispensationalists who have popularly adopted a competing eschatology that was not even introduced until 18 centuries after Christ was crucified. The idea that the “church” has replaced Israel has somewhat anti-semitic overtones, and does not convey what is really upheld by Reformers, taught by Paul and confirmed by the Psalmist:

For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. But judgment shall return to righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it. [Ps 94:14-15]

We are the inheritance, but not by the law for then it would no longer be a promise (Gal 3:18). And we are the righteousness that is given in faith through Christ Jesus (Ro 3:22). For now there is no distinction—and certainly no replacement—for we are all one in Messiah (Ro 10:12).

The Messianic revival that we see in Israel, and around the world, is a clear sign that the veil is slowly being lifted from their eyes, and the fullness of the Gentiles is nearly complete. Christ said He would not return until the people of Israel proclaimed, Baruch HaShem Adonai! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! [Mt 23:39]

Bottom line: Christ will not return until Israel receives Him as Lord and Savior.

Editor’s Note: Dispensationalists would have us believe in not just a Second, but also a Third Coming of our Lord. One pastor said recently that Jesus will come to rapture the church, and come again with the saints to judge the world. Some believe He came in 70 AD to judge Israel which simply begs the question: How many times will Christ return before the last day? It might be another 2000 years before He comes, but the elect are commanded to be ready as if He might return today. Time is short and the harvest is ripe. Contemplate this parable of our Lord to better understand:

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, “Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.” “No,” they replied, “there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.” But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. “Lord, Lord,” they said, “open the door for us!” But he replied, “Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.” Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. [Mt 25:1-13]

Suggested Reading: Replacement Theology

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An Obedient Heart

The LORD said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I performed in their midst? How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me?” (Nu 14:11, 27)

It is a consistent theme throughout the Torah—God calling the children of Israel obstinate, stubborn and rebellious. From the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai, and for the next forty years, Jehovah remembered the grumblings and complaints of Abraham’s seed. On ten different occasions they rebelled and were disobedient, prompting Moses to make intercession on their behalf unto the LORD. In fact, the Exodus generation died in the wilderness having never entered the land of Canaan. What should have been an eleven day journey to the Promised Land actually took a lifetime.

We know too many people who are still wandering through life without any clue as to their unique purpose and calling. They are crippled by fear and indecision; distracted by, or addicted to, worldly temptations and desires; people who spend more time on Facebook than with God’s book; and who turn on the television when they should be opening a Bible, or secluded in prayer.

So it was when Jehovah sent the children of Israel from Kadesh-Barnea to possess the land flowing with milk and honey that they were afraid and rebelled thus provoking Moses to condemn them: You have never believed Him nor listened to His voice. You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day I knew you (Dt 9:23-24).

Moshe (Moses) is a very interesting study. He actually prefigures the Messiah in that he served various roles including priest, mediator, lawgiver, deliverer and miracle worker. But Moses was not perfect. He labored mournfully under the heavy burden that God had placed upon him. At one point, Moses told God that these were not his people:

So Moses said to the LORD, “Why have You been so hard on your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth? I alone am not able to carry all this people because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness” (Nu 11:11-12, 14-15).

Jehovah was merciful towards Moses because He, too, was angry with the people. At Mount Sinai, the LORD told Moses to lead Israel without Him …for I will not go up in your midst, because you are an obstinate people, and I might destroy you on the way (Ex 33:3). God said He didn’t choose Israel because they were a special people, or that they were many in number, but because He loved them and swore a vow to their forefathers (Dt 7:7-9). The LORD heard their captive cries and remembered His promise, but forty long years they grumbled and complained that it would have been better if they had remained in bondage. People keep themselves captive to all manner of worldly seductions; and then blame God for their misery, loneliness and failings. Poor choices make for a messy life, and then we have the obstinance to point the finger at God. Jehovah knew you in the womb, and He gave you life so that you might glorify Him through faithful obedience.

After the passing of Moses and Joshua there arose a generation who did not know the LORD. For 350 years—until the anointing of King Saul—the sons of Israel were ruled by a succession of judges. Before the establishment of the monarchy there was no king in Israel, and the Bible tells us that everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Jdg 21:25). Isn’t that the age we live in today where everybody pretty much does their own thing! Disobedience is a common theme throughout the Book of Judges:

Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals (false gods), and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the people around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger (Jdg 2:11-12).

The period of the monarchy, particularly after King David and his son Solomon, was an age of continued rebellion. Throughout the Books of Kings and Chronicles we read that one king after another did evil in the sight of the LORD. All of the kings in the Northern Kingdom (Israel) were pretty much bad, but a fair number of kings in the Southern Kingdom (Judah) were comparatively good. Israel practiced idolatry, worshiped Baal and even passed their children through fire, but you will find that Judah had her share of rebellious kings as well.

Manasseh, for example, did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD dispossessed before the sons of Israel (2Ki 21:2). Manasseh rebuilt the high places where people burned incense and offered sacrifices to foreign gods; placed altars to false gods in the house of the LORD; made his son pass through the fire as a sacrificial offering to the pagan god Molech; ordained the practice of sorcery, witchcraft and fortune-telling; and seduced the sons of Israel to do evil more than the nations whom the LORD destroyed (2Ki 21:9).

Amon succeeded his father Manasseh, and he did evil in the sight of the LORD for he walked in all the way that his father had walked, and served the idols that his father had served and worshiped them. So he forsook the LORD, the God of his fathers, and did not walk in the way of the LORD (2Ki 21:20-22).

[We need to sidetrack here for a moment to address those who are critical of the violence that is prevalent in the Old Testament. Yes, Jehovah displaced many groups of people from the land of Canaan, but these were people who conducted themselves in a most unholy manner. They practiced all sorts of sexual deviations; worshiped idols and false gods; and were murderous, sacrificing their own children upon burning altars. The sons of Israel were to keep separate from the surrounding pagan cultures, but they failed consistently to walk in obedience to the LORD which led to their later displacement into captivity.

Messiah Gate is burdened by a man who unceasingly condemns God for what he perceives to be unloving, unrighteous and unforgiving judgement. As the LORD answered Job, Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding (Job 38:4).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that there is no injustice with God: For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion (Rom 9:14-15).]

So it was that Amon, son of Manasseh, forsook the LORD, and his own servants conspired to kill him. His son Josiah became king, and scripture tells us that he did right in the sight of the LORD and walked in all the way of his father David (2Ki 22:2).

Josiah was a descendant of King David who had ruled 350 years earlier. The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Josiah who reigned shortly before the Babylonian captivity. Josiah instructed Hilkiah the high priest to distribute the temple donations to the workmen who were restoring the house of the LORD, and Hilkiah made an amazing discovery. While accounting for the money, he found the book of the law hidden away inside the temple. He gave the book to Shapan the scribe who read it in the presence of the king. Scripture tells us that Josiah tore his clothes and lamented the great wrath of the LORD because of the disobedience of their fathers.

The LORD revealed to the prophetess Huldah:

Behold, I bring evil on this place and on its inhabitants, even all the words of the book which the king of Judah has read. Because they have forsaken Me and have burned incense to other gods that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands, therefore My wrath burns against this place and it shall not be quenched (2Ki 22:16-17).

But to King Josiah the prophetess revealed:

Regarding the words which you have heard, because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard that this place should become desolate and cursed, your eyes will not see all the evil which I will bring to this place (2Ki 22:18-20).

The king summoned all the elders, priests, prophets and inhabitants of Jerusalem to hear a public reading of the law; and the people made a covenant with the LORD to walk in obedience, keeping His statutes and commandments with all their heart and soul and might. Josiah ordered that the kingdom be cleansed of all idols and pagan altars including the houses of male cult prostitutes that had been erected inside the temple of the LORD. All that defiled the nation was torn down and burned; the fortune-tellers were removed; abominations demolished; and Passover was reinstituted and celebrated like it had never been marked before in all the days of Israel and Judah. The Bible tells us that there was never a king before or after Josiah who was as obedient to the LORD, but that didn’t stop the execution of God’s judgement for as Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians so, too, would Judah be removed and cast off into bondage under the Babylonians.

Friends, obedience to the LORD is mandatory. If you confess your sins, He is just to forgive; but there may be consequences to pay. Trials and tribulations are sent to either chastise or reform the children of God. The sons of Israel were eventually returned to the land of their fathers after enduring seventy years of captivity and exile—one year for every Sabbath year ignored.

The LORD honors obedience. He told Abraham that because of his obedience all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Ge 22:18). Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness before God.

Hearing of the Gospel requires a faith response from the listener. When the people heard King Josiah read from the book of the law, they entered into a covenant with the LORD to walk in obedience according to all that was written. You can either reject or obey God’s plan of salvation. Jesus Christ said, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him (Jn 14:23).

As Paul wrote to the Corinthians (2Co 6:1-2):

Behold, now is “The acceptable time,” behold, now is “The day of salvation.”

Next: Circumcise Your Heart

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