by Clarence H. Wagner, Jr.
Perhaps you have heard of the term Replacement Theology. However, if you look it up in a dictionary of Church history, you will not find it listed as a systematic study. Rather, it is a doctrinal teaching that originated in the early Church. It became the fertile soil from which Christian anti-Semitism grew and has infected the Church for nearly 1,900 years.
What Is Replacement Theology?
Replacement Theology was introduced to the Church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from Jewish leadership. What are its premises?
0. Israel (the Jewish people and the land) has been replaced by the Christian Church in the purposes of God, or, more precisely, the Church is the historic continuation of Israel to the exclusion of the former.
1. The Jewish people are now no longer a "chosen people." In fact, they are no different from any other group, such as the English, Spanish, or Africans.
2. Apart from repentance, the new birth, and incorporation into the Church, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. The same is true for every other nation and group.
3. Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term "Israel," as found in the Bible, now refers to the Church.
4. The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ.
How Do Replacement Theologians Argue Their Case? They Say:
(Note: I have added my rebuttal to each point.)
0. To be a son of Abraham is to have faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Galatians 3:29 shows that sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: "And if you be Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins us Gentile Christians to what God had already started with Israel.1. The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a "starter." The real Promised Land is the whole world. They use Romans 4:13 to claim it will be the Church that inherits the world, not Israel. "For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith."
Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural prodigy, the Jews? It simply says that through the law, they would not inherit the world, but this would be acquired through faith. This is also true of the Church.2. The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): "For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts."
Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be "a light to the nations," so that God's Word has gone around the world. It does not suggest God's dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.3. Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people (Matt. 21:43): "Therefore I am saying to you, 'The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.'"
Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel. See Teaching Letter #770008, "Did God Break His Covenant With the Jews?"4. A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is racially Gentile or Jewish (Rom. 2:28-29): "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God."
Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], and it certainly qualifies the spiritual qualifications for Jews or anyone who professes to be a follower of the God of Israel.5. Paul shows that the Church is really the same "olive tree" as was Israel, and the Church is now the tree. Therefore, to distinguish between Israel and the Church is, strictly speaking, false. Indeed, people of Jewish origin need to be grafted back into the Church (Rom 11:17-23).
Rebuttal:This claim is the most outrageous because this passage clearly shows that we Gentiles are the "wild olive branches," who get our life from being grafted into the olive tree. The tree represents the covenants, promises and hopes of Israel (Eph. 2:12), rooted in the Messiah and fed by the sap, which represents the Holy Spirit, giving life to the Jews (the "natural branches") and Gentile alike. We Gentiles are told to remember that the olive tree holds us up and NOT to be arrogant or boast against the "natural branches" because they can be grafted in again. The olive tree is NOT the Church. We are simply grafted into God's plan that preceded us for over 2,000 years.6. All the promises made to Israel in the Old Testament, unless they were historically fulfilled before the coming of Jesus Christ, are now the property of the Christian Church. These promises should not be interpreted literally or carnally, but spiritually and symbolically, so that references to Israel, Jerusalem, Zion and the Temple, when they are prophetic, really refer to the Church (II Cor. 1:20). "For all the promises of God in Him (Jesus) are Yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us." Therefore, they teach that the New Testament needs to be taught figuratively, not literally.
Rebuttal: Later, in this Teaching Letter, we will look at the fact that the New Testament references to Israel clearly pertain to Israel, not the Church. Therefore, no promise to Israel and the Jewish people in the Bible is figurative, nor can they be relegated to the Church alone. The promises and covenants are literal, many of them are everlasting, and we Christians can participate in them as part of our rebirth, not in that we took them over to the exclusion of Israel. The New Testament speaks of the Church's relationship to Israel and her covenants as being "grafted in" (Rom. 11:17), "brought near" (Eph. 2:13), "Abraham's offspring (by faith)" (Rom. 4:16), and "partakers" (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29).How Did The Position Of The Early Church Fathers Affect The Church?
Let us look at a brief history of the first four centuries of Christianity, which established a "legacy of hatred" towards the Jewish people, which was against the clear teaching of the New Testament.
(For a complete history of Christian anti-Semitism, send the equivalent of US$1 to your nearest BFP National Office and ask for a copy of the Israel Teaching Letter (#779806), "Where Was Love and Mercy," or download a copy from our Bridges for Peace website, found under the Israel Teaching Letters button at www.bridgesforpeace.com This teaching is also a chapter of my book, Lessons From the Land of the Bible with 13 other great teachings including "Lessons from the Olive Tree," which can be ordered from your nearest BFP national office.)In the first century AD, the church was well-connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17-18 He states: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished." Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, A Legacy of Hatred, there were several contributing factors:
1) the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity;Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem's influence. Could it be He was showing us that Temple worship was no longer necessary as His Holy Spirit now resides in us (I Cor. 6:19), not in the Holy of Holies?
2) the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem's relinquishing her position as a center of Christian faith in the Roman world; and,
3) the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul's missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots.
After the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 133-135) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centers of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots.
As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was illegal. As Christianity grew, the Romans tried to suppress it. In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution.
The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD 160) in speaking to a Jew said: "The Scriptures are not yours, but ours." Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: "Jews are disinherited from the grace of God." Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, "Against the Jews," announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians.
In the early 4th century, Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. The young Church declared itself to be the true Israel, or "Israel according to the Spirit," heir to the divine promises. They found it essential to discredit the "Israel according to the flesh" to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians.
At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church, which placed "the Church Triumphant" over "Vanquished Israel." In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians. However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire to the exclusion of all other religions. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at the Church Council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath.
Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favor to Christianity, while outlawing synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
* The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn.These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next 1,000 years.
* Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed.
* Proselytism to Judaism was prohibited and made punishable by death.
* Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on "the honored day of the sun." By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split. This Jewish Shabbat/Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that.
Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes.
After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone "outside of the flock," in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation. During this period, we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by church leaders:
* Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote: "Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever."At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom (Golden Tongued), the great orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, "the true faith," the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon series. To quote him, "the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God... Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig. They kill and maim one another..."
* Gregory of Nyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia: "the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness..."
* St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as "... serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys."
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent faith of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure. Chrysostom further sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse, "I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish rites... it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle... Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible."
Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content. Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism was to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ.
In the fifth century, the burning question was: If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, then how can you explain their existence?
Augustine tackled this issue in his "Sermon Against the Jews." He asserted that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue. They were to be a "Witness people" - slaves and servants who should be humbled.
The monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings. They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise - usury, or money-lending. The loaning of money was necessary to a growing economy. However, usury was considered to endanger the eternal salvation of the Christian, and was thus forbidden. So, the church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to their reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob. From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early period, the virulent judeo- phobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
The result of these anti-Jewish teachings continued onwards throughout Church history, manifesting itself in such events and actions as the Crusades, the accusation of communion host desecration and blood libel by the Jews, the forced wearing of distinguishing marks to ostracize them, the Inquisition, the displacement of whole Jewish communities by exile or separate ghettoes, the destruction of synagogues and Jewish books, physical persecution and execution, the Pogroms. Ultimately, the seeds of destruction grew to epic proportions, culminating in the Holocaust, which occurred in "Christian" Europe.
Had the Church understood the clear message of being grafted into the Olive Tree from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God's Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God's Name.
Is the New Testament anti-Semitic? Was it Intended That the Church Treat the Jewish People with Contempt?
While the New Testament has been used by Gentile anti-Semites, even within the Church, the writers of the New Testament were Jewish, and therefore their arguments, even critical ones, were from the vantage point of being an intra-communal debate, not inter-communal accusation. Even where the criticism is harsh, it is directed towards a particular group or sect of Jews because of their practices, which needed correcting. For example, even though Yeshua spoke harshly to the Pharisees, He nevertheless said of them, "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach" (Matt: 23:2-3). He was distressed that they were "missing the mark" in their self-righteousness, which is something all of us need to be careful of doing.
The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the Church was and is to love and honour the Jewish people. In Ephesians 2:11-18, we are told that "by the blood of Messiah," we Gentiles are "made near" to the commonwealth of Israel, the covenants, promises and hopes given to Israel. In Romans 11:11-12, 25, we are told that "blindness in part" has come to the Jews so that the message would be forced out into the nations. Nevertheless, we are told that a time would come when "all Israel would be saved" (v. 26), because the gifts and callings of God towards Israel and the Jewish people were given without repentance (v. 29). God's relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is everlasting.
We Gentile Christians are told that the Jews are "beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs" (Rom. 11:28). They are a chosen people who fulfilled their calling and brought the Gospel to the world. They were chosen to:
1) Be obedient to God's Word and demonstrate to the world as "a light to the nations."The Jewish people have fulfilled their role. The promise to the world through Abraham was that, "in you will all the nations on the earth be blessed" (Gen. 12:3). They were to be a light unto the nations and, while they made mistakes as we all do, they did demonstrate the power of God on earth, they did hear God's Word and record it so that we have the Bible, and they were the human channel for the Messiah, who was born, ministered, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and will return to Jerusalem, Israel, in a day yet to come.
2) Hear God's Word and record it - the Bible.
3) Be the human channel for the Messiah.
God made an everlasting covenant between the land of Israel and the Jewish people that must be fulfilled and completed or His Word, the Bible, will be proven a lie, which it is not. God will never forget or annul His ancient people. If God will not fulfil His promises to Israel, what guarantee do we have that He will fulfil His promises to the Church? (See Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Are Jews, Jews, and is Israel, Israel in the New Testament? Do They Still Have a Covenant with God?
ABSOLUTELY. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR ON THIS.
1) The Jews are Israelites, not Gentiles (Rom. 9:4).
2) To Israel still belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises (Rom. 9:4).
3) The gifts and calling of God for Israel are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
4) There are 77 references to Israel in the NT and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, "the Church," where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly, e.g., Rom. 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." If you put "the Church" where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul's prayer be for the Church to be saved?
5) Psalm 105 has a seven-fold affirmation of God's promises of Canaan to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3.
6) Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God's promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night.
7) The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 37:1-14; Eze. 36; Eze. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23, etc.).
8) The Gospel and Yeshua came "to the Jews first, then the Greek" (Rom. 2:9,10; Matt:10:5-7;15:24). There is a distinction in roles between the two. Galatians 3:28 says: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." This is speaking of everyone's standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God's grace and the atoning work on the Cross. Nevertheless, our roles here on earth are definitely distinct; e.g., men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, etc. all have distinct roles to play. Likewise, Jews and Gentiles have distinct roles to play.
What is the Role of the Church?
1) "On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it" (Matt. 16:18). The Church is built on the testimony and understanding of Peter, who is Jewish. Ephesians 2:11-14 indicates that Israel and the Jews (we) were chosen, but Gentiles (you) were also included. 2) The Church is related to Israel and partakers of the covenants, promises, and hopes, but we have not been called to usurp them. Our relationship is as "grafted in" (Rom. 11:17); "brought near" (Eph 2:13); "Abraham's offspring" (by faith) (Rom. 4:16); "heirs" to Abraham's promise as adopted sons (Gal. 3:29) and "partakers" (Rom 15:27).
3) To the world, the Church is called to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20); to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31).
4) To the Jewish people, we are called to show God's love "for the sake of the Patriarchs" (Rom. 11:28), for without them we would not have had God's Word or our Saviour who was a Jew from Israel. We are to show God's mercy (Rom. 11:31). We are to give our material gifts to help them (Rom. 15:27). We are to pray for them and for Israel (Ps. 122:6). We are to be watchman on the walls to protect them (Isa. 62:6,7). We are to help with the aliyah (immigration) to Israel and the building up of Zion (Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 49:22-23).
5) According to Romans 11, we are two distinct groups, both grafted into the same tree, which are the covenants and promises given to Israel; grounded in the same root, the Messiah; drinking of the same sap, God's Holy Spirit. We do not hold up the tree, but the tree us, and we are forbidden from boasting against or being arrogant to God's covenant people the Jews (Rom. 11:17-18).
What Happens When the Church Replaces Israel?
1) The Church becomes arrogant and self-centred.
2) It boasts against the Jews and Israel.
3) It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all.
4) These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed.
5) Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today.
6) Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the Church.
7) You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament (NT) Christian or a NT Church as in the Book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early Church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the 4th century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures.
8) You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic contextualization of the New Testament, which teaches us more about Yeshua and how to become better disciples.
9) The Church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God's plan and prophecy for the Church, Israel and the world today.
What Happens When the Church Relates to Israel?
1) The Church takes its proper role in God's redemptive plan for the world, appreciating God's ongoing covenant relationship and love for Israel and the Jewish people.
2) We can see the consistency of God's redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation as an ongoing complementary process, not as disconnected snapshots.
3) We show love and honour for God's covenant people, not contempt.
4) We value the Old and New Testaments as equally inspired and significant for the Church today.
5) Bible prophecy makes sense for today and offers opportunities for involvement in God's plan for Israel.
6) We become better disciples of Yeshua as we are able to appreciate the Hebraic/Judaic roots that fill in the definitions, concepts, words and events in the New Testament that are otherwise obscured. Why? Many were not explained by the Jewish writers of the New Testament, because they did not feel the need to fill in all the details that were already explained in the Old Testament.
Had the Church understood this very clear message from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God's Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God's Name. Yet, it is not too late to change our ways and rightly relate to the Jewish people and Israel today. Through Bridges for Peace you can read, study and learn more, and also give to demonstrate God's exhortation to us to bless His Covenant People, whom He still loves. Not only do we need to learn and do for ourselves, but we need to teach others so as to counteract the historical error that has been fostered in the Church for nearly 2,000 years.
Thank God, He is a God of mercy, redemption and second chances.
1) Gerhard Falk, The Jew in Christian Theology, (MacFarland: Jefferson, NC, 1992).
2) Leopold Lucas, The Conflict Between Christianity and Judaism, (Aris & Phillips, Warminster, UK: 1993).
3) The New International Study Bible, (The Zondervan Corporation: Grand Rapids, MI, 1985).
4) The New Scofield Reference Bible, Authorized King James Version, (Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 1967).
5) Keith Parker, Is the Church the "New Israel?, (Prayer for Israel: Golant, UK).
6) James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue, (Athenaeum, New York, 1974).
7) David Rausch, The Legacy of Hatred, (Moody Press: Chicago, IL, 1984).
8) Marcel Simon, Verus Israel, (Oxford University Press: New York, NY, 1986).
9) Clarence H. Wagner, Jr., Lessons from the Land of the Bible, (Bridges for Peace: Jerusalem, Israel, 1998).
10) Eds. C. Roth and G. Wigoder, Encyclopaedia Judaica, (Keter Publishing House, Ltd.: Jerusalem, Israel, 1972).
11) A. Lukyn Williams, Adversus Judaeos, (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1935).
12) Robert Louis Wilken, John Chrysostom and the Jews, (University of California Press: Berkeley, 1983)
From The Bridges for Peace Web Site: http://www.bridgesforpeace.com/publications/teaching/Article-18.html
God's promise to Abraham and the Patriarchs are unique.
"What other nation on earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name, and doing for them great and terrible things, by driving out before his people a nation and its gods?" (2 Sam. 7:23)
Abraham's seed was to include a Nation (an earthly people, "as numerous as the grains of sands on the seashore"):
"And the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time from heaven, 'By myself I have sworn,' says the LORD, 'because you have done this, and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will indeed bless you, and I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore. And your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies, and by your descendants shall all the nations of the earth bless themselves, because you have obeyed my voice.'" (Gen. 22:15-18).
Israel is to be a model for all nations.
"Is it too light a thing that you [Messiah, son of David] should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth." (Is. 49:6).
Israel guaranteed ultimate and specific Territorial Boundaries, see Ezekiel 47:13-48:1-35, Deut. 11:23,
"Every place on which the sole of your foot (Abraham) treads shall be yours; your territory shall be from the wilderness and Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the western sea."
The nation was to be a Holy People (the nation was composed of Jews plus Proselytes) Isaiah 62:
"For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her vindication goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the LORD will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My delight is in her, and your land Married; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.
"Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent. You who put the LORD in remembrance, take no rest, and give him no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes it a praise in the earth. The LORD has sworn by his right hand and by his mighty arm: 'I will not again give your grain to be food for your enemies, and foreigners shall not drink your wine for which you have labored; but those who garner it shall eat it and praise the LORD, and those who gather it shall drink it in the courts of my sanctuary.' Go through, go through the gates, prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway, clear it of stones, lift up an ensign over the peoples. Behold, the LORD has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.' And they shall be called The holy people, The redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought out, a city not forsaken."
The Law and Promises were given to Israel: Rom. 9:4, 5:
"They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ. God who is over all be blessed for ever. Amen."
The Messiah was to come in the Line of David.
"Salvation (for all mankind) is from the Jews." (John 4)
A High Priest (Mortal) and a priesthood unique to Israel were given at the same time the Law was given. (See Exodus). The Levitical Priesthood also included a specific and detailed system of sacrifices to show God's provisions for all manner of sin.
The Giving of Scripture: All the books of the Bible were written by devout Jews. The Bible was given to the entire world through the Jews.
The Prophets of the OT are unique to Israel among the nations. No other nation has ever gotten the same treatment.
"What other nation on earth is like thy people Israel, whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name, and doing for them great and terrible things, by driving out before his people a nation and its gods?" (2 Samuel 7:23)
Israel was appointed to be a light to the nations. Her future is guaranteed, in spite of past failures,
"It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.' For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:1-4)
A Temple Building in Jerusalem was to be part of the Jewish economy, and will be in the future, Ezekiel 41-43, 46.
A Throne (King David and his line). The throne was granted to the nation in perpetuity.
Thus says the LORD of hosts [to David], I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. And I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly, from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men; but I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'" (2 Samuel 7:8-16)
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.' Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David, and over his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and for evermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this." (Isaiah 9:6, 7)
Israel was the Wife of Jehovah. God had several covenants with Israel affirming His loyal-love for Israel. Hosea for instance,
"And the LORD said to me, 'Go again, love a woman who is beloved of a paramour and is an adulteress; even as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.' So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, 'You must dwell as mine for many days; you shall not play the harlot, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.' For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days." (3:1-5)
"I will heal their faithlessness; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them. I will be as the dew to Israel; he shall blossom as the lily, he shall strike root as the poplar; his shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive, and his fragrance like Lebanon. They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow, they shall flourish as a garden; they shall blossom as the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon." (14:4-7)
Because of Israel's unfaithfulness under the Old Covenant one can see from the typology of Hosea that God had no choice but to divorce his wife Israel. However, Hosea shows us that by grace alone God then chose to restore and remarry the nation under the gracious terms provided by the New Covenant.
Nowhere does the Bible ever assert that Israel has been replaced by the Church or that God has canceled His eternal, everlasting covenant with Abraham which guarantees the future of that nation in spite of themselves.
Israel is called God's Son. Messiah is the unique seed of Israel, the root out of dry ground.
"For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him." (Isaiah 53:2)
Israel was an Assembly (Synagogue), a worshiping community. Israel's government (from God) involved both King and Priest. These two office are combined in Israel's' Messiah and His future place as Head over the nation, Zech. 3.
Israel was to be blessed under the Old Covenant , and the New Covenant was promised to them long ago to bless them in spite of their failure under the Old. (See for example Jer. 30-31).
Israel may be Compared to the Physical Body of the New Adam (Ray C. Stedman)
Israel Compared...With The Church
Part Two of a two-fold Promise to Abraham: The church to be a Nation (a heavenly people, "as numerous as the stars in the heavens"). Abraham is "the father of all who believe."
The church is a peculiar people (drawn from all nations). The church is a new body of Jew and Gentile, (Ephesians 2:14-3:6)
All believers today belong to the Melchizedek Priesthood. This is a superior priesthood to that of Levi under the Old Covenant, Hebrews 5-9.
Jesus is our Great High Priest (Immortal).
The Church is the Body of Christ, Ephesians, 1 Cor. 12-14. Christ is the Head of the Body. Where the Head is, so also is the Body. In the mystery of the incarnation Jesus the Son of God has made Himself one with His covenant peoples.
Spiritual Gifts are given by the Holy Spirit to all members of the Body of Christ, 1 Cor. 14., etc.
All believers today are called "Sons of God. " The disciples of Jesus are all called by the Lord Jesus "friends of God," a term originally given to Abraham by God.
Believers today are "Joint-Heirs with Christ."
The Church is the Bride of Christ. (Ephesians 5:25-33, 2 Cor. 11:2:
"I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I betrothed you to Christ to present you as a pure bride to her one husband."
The church as the ecclesia is a special body of people called out of the world system to be a special, unique, separated, distinctive people.
Jews and Gentiles without distinction make up the Body of Christ. No land is promised to the church, nor an earthly inheritance. The church is not given a sword, nor is she to team up in partnership with governments.
Members of the church are members one of another. There is no hierarchy in the church, all are brothers and sisters. Authority is given on the basis of servant lifestyle. There is no clergy/laity distinction in the NT church.
The Church is a Temple made up of Living Stones. The church gathers together as a worshiping community. Collectively the church is a dwelling place or habitation for God the Holy Spirit.
The church's ultimate dwelling place is the New Jerusalem, the heavenly city.
From the old fallen race of Adam, God is making "One New Man." This new Adam is symbolized by the two communities of the redeemed: Israel and the church. The church represents the soul of the New Man, Israel, the body. God Himself is the Spirit. (Ray C. Stedman). The churches role in the present age was a "Mystery Hidden from Ages Past"
The church as "The Pearl of Great Price" is the special object God's grace and protection and mercy.
The New Covenant ("enacted on better promises"), is given to the church prior to Israel's final restoration under this same New Relationship with God as foretold by the prophets.
Israel Compared With...The United States
The United States does not have a covenant relationship with God. God is not a respecter of persons or of nations, hence all nations receive even-handed treatment from God.
Gentile nations will be judged in the future by how they have treated the Jews (Joel 2, Matthew 25:31ff).
The US is one of "goyim"--the gentile world powers, therefore largely pagan. We are still living in "the times of the gentiles" when Israel is not center-stage among the nations and gentile powers rise and fall. The Gentile nations seethe with restlessness, often against Israel (Psalm 2), full of selfish ambition, greed, rivalry and special interests.
The US was founded on some Biblical principles and some devout Christians were numbered among the founding fathers. The US has been relatively free and has been an ethnic melting pots for various peoples and cultures.
Nations who bless the physical descendants of Abraham, that is, the Jews, are blessed by God. The US has generally treated the Jews well. The US was the first nation to support the Statehood of Israel in 1948. The US has generally supported Israel as a nation up to the present time.
God to Abraham:
"And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who curses you I will curse; and by you all the families of the earth shall bless themselves." (Gen. 12:2, 3)
US churches vigorously supported world evangelism for many decades. God has honored this obedience to His call to world evangelism, and to giving and sacrifice.
The United States has had a vigorous church in times past. As a result God has showered blessings on us, the descendants of the godly saints of previous generations.
There is still a godly remnant in this country. Many of these godly people are in the heart of the country rather than in the major cities.
The Mass Media as a group is very largely anti-Christian these days. Good News goes unreported. Bad News makes all the headlines. It is very difficult for us to assess the true spiritual "state of the nation."
Educators have largely followed a Secular Humanistic Philosophy for many decades which is in fact anti-Christian. As a result our educational system is largely bankrupt.
The US has been reasonably philanthropic and humanitarian as a world power.
The economic philosophies upon which our free enterprise, capitalistic economy have been based are not necessarily correct, sound, or Biblical.
Democracy is weak form of government, Daniel 2, and the US is most closely connected with the Roman Empire as it is described in Daniel 2 and Revelation. Many ideals of American life were originally derived from Greek and Roman values and philosophy.
God appoints rulers over all nations, Isaiah 40. God appoints different types of governments over different nations as it pleases Him. The US has been fairly thoroughly evangelized and many have rejected the gospel. The result is God has abandoned many to the deception described in 2 Thess. 2:9-12:
"The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
Much of the church in the US has apostatized or has been severely compromised. We are now living in the Laodicean Age of the Church (Rev. 3).
Much of the church in this country has been inundated and compromised by the world. This can be corrected by repentance and reform and renewal. Wealth and affluence and freedom from persecution are generally detrimental to the spiritual life of the church.
The salt has largely lost its saltness and the lampstands have been removed from countless churches, therefore human evil has not been restrained or corrected. Only the church has the light, knowledge and power to deal with fundamental human problems.
The present times of stress and distress are clearly predicted in the NT. For example, 2 Tim. 3:1-5:
"But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of stress. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. Avoid such people."
The church is a nation with a nation and to some extent "as the church goes so goes the nation." God may yet grant a revival in our country if the church wakes up. In any given church, no matter its condition or it faults, God promises great rewards to overcoming saints, (Revelation 2, 3)
On the other hand Scripture does not predict a world wide revival of the church at the close of our age. The next major event will be departure (rapture) of the true church, preparing the way for the end-time tribulation.
"Nevertheless, when the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?" (Luke 18:8)
Addendum: Who is Israel? Who are God's people? by Rick Young
The early church was faced with a totally different perspective concerning the Church and Israel than many do today. In their day the real question would have been how the Gentiles could be considered part of the people of God. Before I get to that point let me talk about God's covenant with Israel (the Sinai Covenant) and distinquish it from the New Covenant. Since these two are different things it is important to understanding who Israel is and who the Church is.
Although the new covenant is a better covenant, superseding any other covenant and making all other covenants obsolete, it still does not invalidate, negate, or annul any other covenant God has ever made with any man. There are several significant distinctions between the new covenant and the Sinai covenant that makes the Sinai covenant have its own meaning and significance. The nation of Israel was birthed under the Sinai covenant with this process recorded in Exodus 19 - 24.
The Sinai covenant defines the Jew. To understand who a Jew is one must always go back to the Sinai covenant. That is why the Jews have been called the "covenant people." The Sinai covenant establishes a special relationship between the nation of Israel and God. This relationship does not extend to the Gentile church, however. The covenant that God made with Israel was with a nation whereas the covenant He has made with those who enter into the new covenant is not with any particular nation but with individuals from every nation on earth.
Part of the Sinai covenant includes such things as civil and judicial laws, which cannot be applied to the Gentile believers (since they do not constitute a particular nation). Hence, for Israel to operate as a nation they needed to have laws that worked on levels of their society. Hence, God gave Israel laws concerning morality, religious ceremony, and judicial laws. The Church, not being a nation, were not assigned the task of setting up laws like Israel were given to govern themselves; each Christian was to subject themselves to the established secular authorities and laws (e.g., see Rom 13 & I Pet 2). For the Church only the moral laws that come dir! ectly from the new covenant apply. Thus, Israel had the duties and responsibilities of a state that the Church was not charged with. One of these duties was to deal with criminals in their midst as well as go to war at times.
There has never been a call by Jesus for the establishment of a Christian state. We can look in history and see Christian attempts at such things: the Crusades of the late Middle Ages to regain the Holy Land from the Muslims and the Christian states as embodied in the Byzantine Empire and the Puritans in New England. God has not called the Gentile church to these things. God gave several promises to the nation of Israel that God will keep for His name's sake. It would be a mistake to think that this special relationship between God and Israel somehow makes Israel better or more loved than any other nation. God will fulfill his covenant promises to Israel despite their success or failure to live up to the covenant. Attempts have been made to "spiritualize" these promises so that they no longer apply to the nation of Israel but to the Church. But these attempts stretch the meanings of the texts into meaninglessness. The Sinai covenant was not given to produce life, justification, or righteousness (see Heb. 7:18-19; Gal. 2:21; 3:11,21). The new covenant was required (see Heb. 8:6-13) and has been the only source of these things since the foundations of the world. So, if the new covenant is eternal and has been the means for salvation from beginning to end then what was the purpose of the Sinai covenant? Some see the Sinai covenant as God's "Plan A" to bring salvation to the world. The reasoning goes that Israel failed miserably in God's "Plan A."
However, Jesus fulfilled the requirements of "Plan A" so now God has constructed a "Plan B," which is the new covenant, where God uses the Church to accomplish what Israel failed to do. The problem with this, of course, is that it fails to take into account the eternal nature of the new covenant as the only means for salvation ever. But does the coming of the Messiah and the revealing of the new covenant mean that God is through with the nation of Israel? Just because the Law has been made obsolete does that make the Sinai Covenant and God's purposes for Israel obsolete as well? To do so I think would be quite presumptive about God's plans. Only the arrogant believe that they have figured out God. We do not want to be in the place of Job when God asks him "if you know so much then tell me where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" "Did God reject His people? By no means!" (Rom. 11:1a).
Israel, as a nation, will come into the New Covenant, as promised by God. Actually, the Gentiles coming into the New Covenant is one of the mysteries of God only revealed fully after the coming of the Messiah.
When we think about the new covenant being fully enacted Jeremiah 31:33-34 gives us pause: "...this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days... They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying,'Know the Lord,' for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them." Verse 33 specifically states that the new covenant will be establishment with Judah and Israel. The Gentiles are not mentioned. Could this reference to "Judah and Israel" really be a reference to the Gentiles who compose the Church? This type of spiritualization is based on the faulty assumption that God has annulled the Sinai covenant and ended His relationship with the ethnic nation of Israel. But since the Gentiles seem to now be tasting the new covenant doesn't this justly render Jer. 31:33 as a reference to the Gentile Church? And, if it truly is a reference to the ethnic nation of Israel then, how could the new covenant now be in operation? Romans 11, without equivocation, states that physical Israel (i.e, ethnic Jews - not Gentiles - who are not part of the Gentile church) will become partakers of the new covenant: "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: 'The deliverer will come from Zion; He will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them when I take away their sins.'" (Rom. 11:25-27).
Paul is clearly not spiritualizing 'Israel' as the Gentile Church when he quotes from Isa 59:20 and Jer 31:34 here in Romans 11:26-27. Paul understands these texts in the Hebrew Scriptures to be references to physical Israel and not to the Gentile Church. The new covenant has been revealed in Christ and is being manifested by Christ though His Church. But the new covenant is only completely fulfilled with Christ return. "the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (Col. 1:26-27). At first the apostles and early disciples did not comprehend what the new covenant fully meant. They thought of the new covenant as being merely an extension and fulfilling of the Sinai covenant. In Acts 10-11 Peter was sent to some Gentile believers where they received the gift of the Holy Spirit. God had first spoken to Peter in a vision telling him "do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (Ac 10:15). We discover in the events that follow that the message referred to God bringing Gentiles into His family without them first becoming Jews: "The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles" (Ac 10:45). Afterwards Peter explained the event to the circumcised believers in Jeru! salem who had criticized him for associating with Gentiles, "who was I to think that I could oppose God?" (Ac 11:17b). From Peter's testimony they concurred saying, "God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Ac 11:18b). Later, when some had been teaching, "unless you are circumcised according to the custom taught by Moses you cannot be saved" (Ac 15:1b) a council of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem debated the matter and Peter testified that God, "made no distinction between us and [the Gentiles], for He purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Ac 15:9-11). The church ended up issuing a letter declaring that "it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you [Gentiles] with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." (Ac 15:28-29). The early believers were beginning to understand that they were now living under a new and different covenant. The early church wrestled with whether the Gentiles should keep the Law of the Sinai covenant. The Jews who made of the major portion of the early church did not fully understand the new covenant. Peter understood the new covenant through his understanding of the Sinai covenant (though Jesus spoke at length about the underlying new covenant principles of the Sinai covenant in the Sermon on the Mount). But God revealed to Peter that he was not to reject those who God had made clean. God demonstrated that the Gentiles - without the Law and without becoming Jewish first - were received into God's family by the Holy Spirit coming upon them (i.e., Cornelius and the other Gentiles of his household). The Gentiles were not required to be circumcised, pay tithes, keep Saturday as the Sabbath, etc. They were not part of! the Sinai covenant. They were not Jewish. They had, by the grace of God, bypassed the shadow and model of God's plan and had gone directly to the substance and actual, who is Christ.
Unfortunately there continues to be many, even after the church elders and apostles issued their letter that still no do not understand living under the new covenant. They try to instill remnants of the Sinai covenant by creating temples, priesthoods, eating kosher foods, tithing, observing the Sabbath, establishing theocratic states, and a myriad of similar other things that have their origins in the Sinai covenant. Sometimes observing the Sinai covenant is shrouded in the idea of "principles" contained within it. Tithing, for example, is a requirement for the Jews under the Sinai covenant to provide support for the Levite priesthood who lacked an allotment of land. In some Gentile churches support of the clergy and church activities is warranted by a tithe. Though tithing is never advocated to the Gentiles in the ! New Testament it is presented as "principle" presented under the Law. But when Paul spoke about how he had the right to obtain physical support from the church (though he did not accept it) he did not provide any principles of Levites receiving tithes but a proverb about not muzzling the ox as he worked. The principle of giving was provided but not tithing. In another variation of extending the Sinai covenant to Gentiles the idea of water baptism is used in the same manner as circumcision was among the early believers. Jesus illustrated this proper fitting of the new covenant in a set of parables: "No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins." (Luke 5:36-38). In summary, God still has a covenant with Israel and they have a place in God's plans as a nation. The New Covenat, promised to Israel, has, by the mystery of God, been given to the Gentiles, until the time of the promise of Israel being brought into the New Covenant arrives. The Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant are not the same thing and the Sinai Covenant does not become invalid because the Gentiles are experiencing the New Covenant, though it is a superior covenant. Israel was promised to be given the New Covenant and this will happen in the future. (added 2/12/08)
I send out periodic Bible-study newsletters. They are archived on my web site.