The understanding about the significance and prominence of Israel and the Jewish people hasn’t been with me until only recently. My theology has been mostly lifted off from the pages of Systematic Theology textbooks that originate from Western Christendom where a form of theology has dominated for centuries.
Replacement Theology teaches that God is done with Israel and has replaced it with the Church. It has boldly appropriated for itself the promises – those that fit into its theology and needs – God originally made to Israel. An example of this is the promise in Isaiah 49:16, where God says, “Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”. Also, the well-known one: “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:6 and Heb 13:5). Based on verses like these, the church has formulated a doctrine commonly known as “once saved, always saved”.
These promises, taken in their proper contexts, applies to Israel primarily and solely. God promised, based on an eternal and unconditional Abrahamic Covenant, that He will never forsake His chosen nation. But does this mean that every Jew since Abraham is automatically saved? Certainly not. In Paul’s words, many branches were cut off from the original olive tree, and in their place were ingrafted branches from the wild olive tree. “If God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” (Rom 11:21).
My journey in 2003. Prompted by Joshua 1:8: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success,” I began to explore the Old Testament, especially the Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible). Until then – I am ashamed to admit it – I dared not touch the Old Testament, even with a ten-foot pole, because it was just too hard to understand. Unconsciously, I avoided it because it was the “old” testament. What possible relevance would it have in this modern time and age? (For this reason, the Church has heavily applied allegorization when interpreting Old Testament passages.)
With the Holy Spirit as my Teacher, I began to uncover gems of wisdom and understanding. I also saw that many, most perhaps, of our Christian practices today do not have Scriptural basis. Christianity, as we know it today, is so removed from its Hebraic roots such that it has taken on an identity of its own. For one, we have thrown away the Feasts of the Lord because we have wrongly seen them as Jewish Feasts. In their place, we celebrate holidays like Christmas that have pagan underpinnings.
Israel, I have come to see, is the missing link in more ways than one.
1. It is the missing link in theology.
If the Bible is seen as one book, one narrative from start to finish, then you must see that it is a narrative about one nation in particular. Israel.
Israel was on God’s mind from the third chapter of Genesis when He spoke of a “woman” (Israel) and “her seed” (the Jews and Jesus). It is through God’s dealing with Israel that we see His character: faithfulness, kindness, wrath, justice and righteousness.
The Church sees itself as the spiritual Israel. Whatever God wanted to accomplish through Israel, He will now accomplish through the Church. Before we get too full of ourselves, let me say that the Church is the Church. But the Bride of Christ, for which Christ will come, comprises the Church and the Jewish people – the “One New Man” which Christ will form and is already forming (Eph 2:14-16).
As they say, wrong theology will produce wrong behavior. In evangelism, for example. Christians have mostly preached to Gentiles. But didn’t Paul say that the gospel is “to the Jews FIRST, and also to the Greek”? (Rom 1:16).
2. Israel is the missing link in Eschatology: the study of the End-time.
I have read and heard many interpretations of the Book of Revelation; too many to remember. Most, if not all, of them consists of fragmented speculations loosely joined together to form a mirage of the future. I would not even say that Israel is the glue that will join the pieces of the puzzle together because Israel is not the glue, Israel is the picture. In the End-time, God will fulfill what He had declared in Genesis 3: that the seed (Christ) of the woman (Israel) will bruise the head of the serpent (Satan).
What’s more, when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the holy angels with Him, He will sit on His throne to judge the nations (Matt 25:31ff). There is judgment for individuals, and there is one for nations too.
How will He judge them? Matthew goes on to tell us that Christ will judge them based on how they have treated His “brethren”. Since Jesus was a Jew at the time of speaking these words, He can only be referring to the Jewish people. The “sheep” nations are those who have ministered to His brethren and they will inherit the kingdom of God. On the contrary, the “goat” nations are those who have not. They are “cursed” and will be cast “into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels”.
Where will your nation stand on that Day?
3. It is the missing link in our destinies and the destiny of our nations.
Christians have been for a long time engrossed with finding God’s Will for their lives. Many books and seminars and workshops have been produced to address this proverbial question. But to what end? Many Christians are still as clueless about their personal destinies.
Why? Because they have not considered Israel.