An Ancient Belief

Many years ago, I wrote one of my weekly lessons/articles using only Scripture. I used the statements of the Lord in regard to Israel. The Most High God said that never again would Israel be exiled from their land, never again will their land be invaded, never again will Jerusalem be destroyed. (Amos 9:15, Joel 3:17, Zechariah 14:11) There are many more, but you get the idea.

I received a scathing response from a Christian Brother that I thought was my friend. I was shocked. Apparently, this Brother believed that the many promises the Lord made to Abraham and his descendants were now invalid. Actually, I realized later that this Brother believed the promises were switched to the Church. He believed that the Children of Israel had been replaced by the Church.

This is called Replacement Theology, or Supersessionism. This brand of theology believes that the Church has superseded Israel. In its more radical form, Jews are no longer considered to be God’s chosen people in any sense. It is an ancient belief which some scholars think began with Augustine in the Fourth Century.

A hallmark of Replacement Theology is a spiritual interpretation of the Word of God. For example, the Church is spiritual Israel.

Replacement Theology is not usually taught or preached directly as a doctrine, but underlies the world view of the teacher or preacher who believes it. An example of this is from the commentary on the Revelation by Brother B. W. Johnson, a well-spoken Biblical scholar in the Nineteenth Century. In the letter to Pergamos (Revelation 2:14) the Lord Jesus said, “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam …” In his commentary, Johnson noted that Jesus was condemning “teachers like Balaam who seduce the true Israel into sin.” (my emphasis) It is subtle, but Johnson was saying that Jesus was condemning those who were misleading the Church, which was now the true Israel in his view.

Personally, I have difficulty understanding how one can read Romans chapter eleven and not understand that the Apostle Paul was telling us that Gentiles are wild olive branches grafted into the natural olive tree (Israel). (Romans 11:16-22)

Further, when we all get to Heaven the followers of Replacement Theology may do a double-take when they see the New Jerusalem with its twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve sons of Israel. But, because of the joy of being in the presence of God the Father and the Lord Jesus, they will not be disappointed, just surprised. (As I suspect many of us will be when our man-made traditions are clarified to us.)

I understand the Bible in a literal fashion. I believe the Lord Jesus literally came to this world two-thousand years ago. I believe that He will literally come again. How I look forward to the Day! Praise His name, forever!

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