And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. [Lk 21:24]
This week we wanted to expound on our previous post, Have You Replaced Abraham?, regarding the topic of so-called Replacement (or Supersessionist) Theology that the “church” has replaced Israel in God’s plan of redemption. A Catholic reader had this to say:
“Replacement Theology” is an inaccurate term. We believe that the promises given to Abraham and his children were fulfilled in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The Catholic Church is the New Israel, the New Jerusalem. Christ’s Kingdom is His Church – on earth and in heaven (and in purgatory). The children of Abraham are all of those who are united with the Messiah, Christ. This has nothing to do with racial heritage. In the Kingdom of Christ, there is no longer Jew or Greek as far as having privilege. So it depends on how you define “replacement theology”, but the Catholic Church is the continuation and fulfillment of the religion given by God to Moses, through the Prophets, through the Messiah. The covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them, but we are living under a New Covenant. “Replacement Theology” is a derogatory term made up by dispensationalists to label anyone who believes in Covenant Theology.
There is some truth (as we have underlined) in this reader’s comment, although we question the idea that the Catholic Church is the New Israel in light of the assertion that the Mosaic covenant is eternally valid. The covenant with Moses includes the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai, but we will assume that the reader does not mean to suggest that Jews can be saved by the Law. It is true that the promises given to Abraham and his children were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, wrote: 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 (Gal 3:16). Paul, here, is referencing this passage in Genesis: In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice (Ge 22:18).
We learn from the Galatian letter that the Law does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise (Gal 3:17-18). The Law, priesthood, temple sacrifice, and Feast Days all pointed to, or were a shadow of, spiritual promises fulfilled in Jesus Christ (the seed of Abraham).
Paul wrote to the Roman assembly that they be not uninformed of this mystery—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in (Rom 11:25). We see the similarity of this passage with the fullness spoken of by Christ in reference to the times of the Gentiles, although in a different context.
The Apostle goes on to say that God’s choice (the Jews) are beloved for the sake of the fathers (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob); for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable (Ro 11:28). He is talking here about the spiritual gifts of election and redemption, or as Peter writes:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. [1Pe 2:9-10]
In this passage Peter paraphrases the prophet Hosea (as does Paul in Ro 9:25), and applies the contextual reference of the Old Covenant to both Jew and Gentile (a chosen people under the New Covenant).
In Paul’s epistle to the Romans he quotes from Isaiah (Is 59:20-21) that God has a covenant to remove ungodliness from Jacob (Israel) and take away their sins, but this will not happen until they call upon the name of Messiah (Mt 23:39). It is our faith if Israel confessed Yeshua HaMashiach that He would return immediately in power and glory. Because they rejected Him our Lord prophesied that Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles, and her people led captive. In the context of this discourse He was speaking of a cataclysmic event that was to take place in that generation (Lk 21:32).
[Editor’s Note: The phrase this generation will not pass away has been debated for over 1900 years. The word genea is used 17 times in the New Testament and always is translated generation. Some theologians will define genea as race in order to apply the phrase to an end time scenario. Their reasoning is that the Jews have been scattered, dispersed and exiled throughout history, and yet they still survive as a distinct race that will not pass away until all things have been fulfilled. Literally, the prophecy of Christ regarding the destruction of Jerusalem was fulfilled in the generation to whom He was speaking, and was probably witnessed by John the Apostle.]
We have been living in the times of the Gentiles since, at least, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The Romans killed 1.2 million Jews out of a population (according to Josephus) of 2.2 million. The Christian population was scattered, the city razed, the temple burned to the ground and close to 100,000 captives were dispersed into the provinces, or taken to Rome to build the Coliseum. Christians were lit as human torches to light the avenue leading to the Coliseum. People of God had to burn a pinch of incense in the palm of their hand and confess Caesar as Lord in order to receive a license to buy, or sell in the marketplace. Mark of the Beast? Well, we know that Beast was the Jewish code name for Caesar, six is the number of man and three 6’s signified ruler, or authority.
It was most certainly a time of Great Tribulation for that first century generation. It is critical that we understand the historical context of Bible prophecy. For example, to whom was the Book of Revelation written: Catholics, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Episcopalians, Adventists, Mormons? No, it was written to the seven churches in Asia who uniquely understood the symbolism and prophetic language of John’s apocalyptic vision. (Without a doubt the seven churches could decipher the cryptic message of Rev 13:18.) When was it written: Before, or after 70 AD? If it was written after 70 AD why doesn’t John mention the most terrible of events, that is, the destruction of Jerusalem which he surely witnessed? It would be as if someone wrote about the War on Terror and did not mention the attack on 9/11.
And why would John write to the seven churches about things that had no relevance to them? Things that weren’t going to happen for thousands of years, and things that Christ makes very clear will happen soon (Rev 1:1).
Times of the Gentiles? End of the age? Our trust is in the last day (there is only one). Christ said, Whosoever believes on Me, I will raise him up on the last day (Jn 6:39, Jn 6:40, Jn 6:44, Jn 6:54). Prophecy writers can debate about the rapture and tribulation and Millennial Kingdom and Second Coming…
We’re just persevering to the last day.
[Editor’s Note: Messiah Gate does not hold to either Dispensational, or Supersessionist doctrine. We have problems with both. A radio preacher we listen to was naming 14 things that must happen before Christ returns. Well, some of the things he mentioned have already happened which is why you will hear prophecy teachers speak about partial, or double-fulfillment of prophecy. One of the 14 items listed by this preacher was the abomination of desolation (Mt 24:15). We know that this desecration was to occur in the holy place, or temple of God. While there are plans to build and furnish a new Jewish temple the Al-Aqsa Mosque currently sits on the site of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. No, this prophecy of Christ was fulfilled in 70 AD.]
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