The Truth of Israel: The Nation
“My kingdom is not of this world…”
I don’t believe or sympathize with replacement theology. There are too many references in the NT and prophetic references in the OT that make it clear that Israel, its people, and the nation, are still in play. All that is known of God and the Bible begins with Israel and the descendants of Abraham. Not only is it a literal ancestry for some as well as a spiritual ancestry for others, but it is also the story of God and His dealings with man, and the beginning of redemption that would be made available through Jesus Christ. However, there are also a good many verses that show us that the substance of our salvation and faith is not dependent on physically identifying with Israel.
When we look back a few years at the HRM and Gentile Messianic movements, much of it has to do with the rebirth of Israel, and spoken modern Hebrew. Both of these have reemerged within the last 150 years and it has led people to wonder what role it plays in the life of a Christian and the end times. This wonder or curiosity about Israel and Hebrew has lead many to believe that this reemergence is something that we are to identify with as an additional component, or fulfillment to our Christian experience.
There is no doubt there currently is, and will continue to be a supreme focus on Israel in the end times, but I doubt the the Messianic and Hebrew movements would exist in the US as they do now, had it not been for the rebirth of Israel and the support of evangelicals; And if the rebirth of Israel is something to complete our experience in Christ, have true believers in Christ been functioning aimlessly over the past centuries or millenia? Think about it.
Ultimately what its role should be for believers in Christ, especially as Gentiles, is a question that has both, not been asked, nor has it been answered. Therefore, I will ask the all important question which is;
“What part does Israel play in our Christian experience of identifying with the Cross of Jesus Christ and righteousness by faith?”
The reason we must ask questions and explore this issue has absolutely nothing to do with whether we should be pro Israel and pro Jewish, or not. The real issue has to do with the falsehoods and wild claims which are being made about Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ by the HRM, Messianic and Gentiles Messianic movements, and even some Evangelicals. Don’t be fooled into thinking that these groups and people are simply zealous for Israel. I firmly believe that there is an extremely erroneous notion, along with doctrines that do not coincide with what the Bible says about the role Israel plays in the life of a believer in Christ.
Many evangelicals along with HRM have fallen for the idea that because Romans 11 speaks of the how we have been grafted in therefore we are to be in lock step with everything that proceeds from anything “Israeli” or “Jewish”. Lets read:
“You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in’. Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.” (Romans 11:19-21)
As with all scripture, this passage should not be taken lightly, but there are two points to consider, which are how the branches were broken off, and how we were grafted in. These reasons are Belief, and Unbelief. Well then, Belief in what? Israel? Jews? No we are grafted in by belief in God through Jesus Christ. Hear what Jesus says:
“I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser…I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and withered…”(John 15:1-6)
So concerning the idea of being grafted into Israel, what actually is Israel to us? And more importantly, what constitutes Israel from God’s perspective? People focus on Romans 11, but overlook Romans 9, which says:
“…For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac, your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed.”
This verse is very important in contrast to Romans 11 by showing that God still holds a distinction as to who is truly His, despite someone being of the chosen race of people.
We can see in this verse that Jesus had no regard for a person’s heritage when it came to dealing with sin. Lets read:
(Jesus speaking)”I know that you are Abraham’s descendants…If God were your father you would love Me for I proceeded forth and came from God…You are of your father the devil and the desires of your father you want to do…But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me…He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear because you are not of God.”(John 8:37-47)
Concerning the nation though, people can blindly think that just because we see the rebirth of Israel, God has somehow forgotten His standards and judgments, and therefore, He is going to recognize any one who supports the rise and success of Israel as a nation, as His true followers. This couldn’t be more wrong. The Pharisees at the time of Christ were undoubtedly pro-Israel in all their customs and adherences, but let’s take a look at what judgments Jesus declared upon Israel in that day:
“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.” (Matthew 21:43)
Jesus also goes on to say:
“See, your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!'”(Matthew 23:38-39)
And here is Paul’s description of Jerusalem in his day:
“for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.”(Galatians 4:25)
Now, with all that said, the actual point of this article is not necessarily to claim that those of HRM do not understand these scriptures. Even if they didn’t understand them, no one is a heretic for simply having a zeal, or even an over zealous love for Israel. Nor is someone a heretic for having a different opinion about Israel. Also, not everyone who adheres to the Law does so out of any political loyalty or allegiance. Many in the HRM simply want to honor and obey God in their personal life. So the true and disastrous problem does not lie solely in an ignorance of these scriptures, but if that ignorance is combined with other factors, it is a serious problem. So what are these other factors?
Let’s go back to what I stated previously about the rebirth of Israel. The rebirth of Israel has gained a great deal of support from American Evangelicals. This support for Israel has led to to a great deal of support for Messianic or even Gentile Messianic groups who specialize in promoting and studying ancient Israel and the Law of Moses. Here our problem begins. The problem begins, not with support for Israel, and not for support of Messianic Christians, but only when these Messianic or HR groups begin teaching that we are under the Law of Moses. You see, to believe we are under the Law as a covenant, a person usually has to believe 3 other ideas.
1)The Law contained the full spectrum as to how men ought to live, and that it was not limited in its capacity nor function.
2)The Law worked or should have worked for ancient Israel.
3) The Law will work today.
Now, once a person believes this; these factors listed below all become a recipe for disaster and deception:
1)Misunderstanding of what defines true Israel according to scripture, now that Christ has come.
2)Belief that the Law should be employed on a personal and civil level.
3)Rebirth of Israel as a candidate or catalyst for implementing the Law in its fullness.
When we combine all these factors, the idea that we come away with is that the Kingdom of God is to be made up on a physical, national, theocratic and totalitarian level, and what better place is there to see this come to fruition than upon the ground in which it began, that is Israel.
This is not a supposition. Almost every single person which I have conversed with from the HRM, is unashamed about having contempt for two specific things:
1)Contempt for New Testament Evangelical Theology
2)The American system of a republic, democratic government and religious freedom.
The reason there is such contempt for these two points by the HRM is because they see America as a failed attempt at setting up a pseudo theocracy. It is based on the idea, that had our founders been true Christians, they would have instituted the law of Moses, not the Constitution.
When certain teachings about the Law begin to infiltrate Christianity, many who undertake the study of Hebrew and the Law of Moses along with the rise of Israel, tend to develop a historical romanticism about the role of the Law on a personal and civil level. When they adopt that romanticism, many fall for the idea, that what God has always wanted, even after Christ and the Gospel, is a national, totalitarian theocracy with the Law of Moses as the chief rule of law. The desire for a theocracy is not new, but the rise of Israel has given the idea of a theocracy under the Law of Moses, a whole new perspective. This perspective has led people to believe that the kingdom of God depends on a nation to facilitate its success. I can relate and understand to how many view America and the Christian/Evangelical Church as falling into disrepair, but any decline that exists within both, is not due Biblical misinterpretations about the Law. It is because we have failed in the area of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the Gospel that is the only hope as Paul emphatically tells us:
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith…”