Many Christians believe that God has replaced Israel with the church. To those who share this belief system it seems that all of the promises made to Israel have been eliminated and the church has become the new set-apart people, and Israel has been rejected. Is this what the Scriptures really teach?
Books could be written that explain the fallacy of this belief. For those who wish to dig deeper for the truth, I wish to list some points for consideration:
1. The word “church” used in the New Testament is a deceptive translation. Please see my teaching, “Church”, for a clearer understanding.
2. Read Ephesians 2:11-13, and 2:19
“Therefore remember that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who were called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh, which is made by hands, that at that time YOU WERE WITHOUT CHRIST, BEING ALIENS FROM THE COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL AND STRANGERS FROM THE COVENANTS OF PROMISE, HAVING NO HOPE, AND WITHOUT GOD in the world, but now in Christ Jesus you who at another time were FAR OFF ARE MADE NEAR by the blood of the Christ.”
“Now therefore ye are NO LONGER STRANGERS AND FOREIGNERS, BUT
FELLOWCITIZENS WITH THE SAINTS AND OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD,”
From these scriptures we see that becoming connected with Israel is the only thing that has made the “nations” (gentiles) become part of the family of God, otherwise non-Jews were aliens and not part of the commonwealth of the covenants. Without Israel (through Israel's Jewish Messiah – Jesus) the gentiles had no hope in the world and they were without the promises/covenants made by God. Without joining themselves with Israel, through their Messiah, they are completely without God.
3. Read Romans 11:17-24
“And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, have been grafted in among them, and came to share the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. And if you boast, remember: you do not bear the root, but the root bears you! You shall say then, “The branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Good! By unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by belief. Do not be arrogant, but fear. For if Elohim did not spare the natural branches, He might not spare you either. See then the kindness and sharpness of Elohim: on those who fell sharpness, but toward you kindness, if you continue in His kindness, otherwise you also shall be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for Elohim is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a GOOD olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches, be grafted into their OWN olive tree?”
Interestingly, it is the root of the “natural” olive tree (Israel) that gives nourishment to the “wild olive tree” (the non-Jews). How is it that some people believe that the natural branch (Israel) has been rejected when the Apostle Paul tells us just the opposite? He declares that the natural branch supplies the nourishment to the tree and that the unbelieving Jews will be grafted back into their original tree if they cease from their unbelief. The prophets tell us that Judah will indeed, as a nation, accept Yeshua (Jesus) as their Messiah. In fact, Yeshua's first disciples, including Paul writing here, were the first to accept Yeshua. Many Jews have accepted Yeshua as Messiah since the first century.
I have never grafted trees so I cannot speak from experience about that concept, but I do understand medical grafting. For example: let's assume that I experienced burns over a large portion of my body and needed a large amount of skin grafting. Because my skin was burned so badly, I had to have skin from a cadaver, etc. Now, since skin grafts do not have their own blood supply, they must rely on the wound bed at the recipient site for nutrients. In other words, the original source of the skin can no longer give blood supply and nourishment to the skin once it has been removed. The skin would become part of my body. It is my body that would now “own” the skin and would be responsible for its care and nourishment. Likewise, once a branch has been cut off from the “wild olive tree” it would no longer receive nourishment from that source. Henceforth, the branch would become part of the natural tree and rely on the natural tree for its sustenance. The "grafted" in item will begin to look like the source of its sustenance, not the other way around.
Non-Jews wishing to obtain the promises of God must do so by becoming part of the chosen people, Israel. The natural tree.
4. The Apostle Peter in I Peter 2:9-10 explains, like Paul, that the non-Jews were once “not a people” who had “not obtained mercy” but now have obtained mercy. How? By being grafted into the natural branch through their Jewish Messiah – Yeshua (Jesus).
5. Consider the “God-fearers”. Who were the God-fearers, or Worshipers of God, that are mentioned in the New Testament? Examples are: Cornelius and Lydia.
God-fearers were non-Jews who accepted the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, (The God of
Israel) and were Torah observant to the best of their ability. (Without being allowed to
participate in Temple worship because of a wall of separation). The Jews of the first century
allowed these God-fearers to assemble with them in their synagogues. One can read all about
them in the book of Acts. In fact, it is the Apostle Paul, during his missionary journeys, who
finds these God-fearers congregating in the synagogues of the Jews. This is how he started
reaching the non-Jews with the gospel of Messiah. Read Acts closely and discover that Paul did
not run around preaching to any old pagan walking down the street. The book of Acts declares
that in every city into which the Apostle Paul entered that he first sought out the local
synagogue in which to do his preaching of Messiah. What better group to reach first for
Messiah than the Jews and those who attached themselves to Israel as God-fearers.
In fact, with the case of Lydia of Phillippi (Acts chapter 16), we find that as Paul entered that
city that there was not a synagogue. We are told by Luke that Paul goes to where Jews would
have assembled when they had no synagogue. They would always assemble by “living water”
to have Sabbath service and prayer (1). This is exactly where he found a group of
women assembled on the Sabbath.
Who were these women? God-fearers or Worshipers of God. There were no Jews among
them. These God-fearers have no problem listening to a Jewish man tell them about a Jewish
Messiah on a supposedly only “Jewish” day – Sabbath (a Saturday go to church bunch of
non-Jews! Wow!) They readily accept Paul's message. Why? Because they had already
attached themselves to Israel and Israel's God.
It is highly likely that at one time there had been a synagogue in Phillippi, but like Rome, the
Jews had probably been expelled. Only the God-fearers remained and they had stayed faithful.
6. Read the prophets and discover that every promise made to Israel will come to pass at the return of Messiah Yeshua. She will be completely restored. He has never had but one bride and that bride is Israel. Those desiring to be a part of that bride must attach themselves to Israel and her God. God never divorced Judah, the Southern Kingdom, He only divorced Ephraim, the Northern Kingdom.
Now, that point brings me to my last point in this lesson.
7. Do you have an identity crisis? Please see my teaching, The Two Witnesses.
Shalom, and May the God of Israel Reign! (And rest assured He will)
(1) Josephus (Antiquities 14:258/x.23) says that the Romans decreed "Jewish men and women who desire to do so may celebrate their Sabbaths and perform their holy rituals according to Jewish laws, and may make their places of prayer at the seaside, according to the customs of their forefathers." When the Jews of Alexandria lost their synagogues under Flaccus, Philo (Against Flaccus 122) says "They hastened to the nearest point of the shore, for they had been deprived of their usual places for prayer, and standing in a clear and open space, they cried out to God."