God’s Purpose for Israel
Have you ever been to the Promised Land? Is there not a yearning in your heart to visit Israel? How can you explain the natural desire you have to support and pray for God’s chosen people? What do you know about Israel, and do you truly pray for and support the Jewish Nation?
As we consider these questions and the signs of Christ’s coming in light of the times in which we live, the question arises: Where does Israel stand today in God’s plan for humanity? Does God still have a plan for Israel? And if so, what part do we have in that plan?
The prophet Isaiah said that Israel was ordained by God to be a light to the Gentiles [Isaiah 42:6]. From the times of the Patriarch Abraham nearly 4,000 years ago, the Nation of Israel was to be a chosen people ordained to serve and worship God and to be a light to the heathen.
God’s plan for humankind is that all men would come to know Him and worship His holy name. Everything Christ did was to save the lost for the purpose of glorifying the Father. Philippians 2:5-11 says that Jesus came to Earth, He was crucified and has been exalted by the Father, “that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So, God’s desire is that His holy name be exalted not only in Israel, but also in every country, and it was for this purpose that He established the Nation of Israel.
However, Israel did not fulfill her divine purpose. In I Kings 11, the Lord was angry with King Solomon because he failed to lead Israel to fulfill her calling of serving the One and Only Lord God of Israel. Therefore, God split the kingdom, giving ten tribes to Jeroboam and, for David’s sake, leaving two tribes with Solomon’s son Rehoboam.
Israel continued to live in idolatry, failing to fulfill her call to be a light to the Gentiles, and God judged them by sending them into captivity in Babylon.
This brings us to the question once again: Where does Israel stand today in God’s plan, and is God finished with Israel? The prophet Jeremiah spoke of a time to come when Israel would serve the Lord their God and Christ their Messiah. God continued and said, “Therefore fear thou not, O my servant Jacob, saith the Lord; neither be dismayed, O Israel: for, lo, I will save thee from afar, and thy seed from the land of their captivity; and Jacob shall return, and shall be in rest, and be quiet, and none shall make him afraid. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.” [Jeremiah 30:10-11]
God is not done dealing with Israel. Israel still has a part in God’s divine plan for the remainder of time. The church is not Israel, and Israel is not the church. Christians are not the “new Israel”, and God has not forsaken the Jewish people. The church has not replaced Israel.
Theology that teaches that the church has replaced Israel, called Replacement Theology, was initially developed to justify prejudice against the Jewish people. This misconception is rooted in the theological anti-Semitism that began in the first century.
My wife and I have walked through the Nazi concentration camps of Auschwitz, Birkenau and Dachau in Poland and Germany. We have visited the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem and witnessed the evidence of the lowest points in human history. Though Hitler’s hatred toward the Jews has been documented, my wife and I find it impossible to comprehend how thousands of soldiers could deliberately follow and carry out Hitler’s evil plan. It is imperative that Christians understand the dynamic that Replacement Theology played in the Holocaust.
The Reformation fathers corrected many wrong theologies when they formed the Protestant movement, but unfortunately they brought Replacement Theology with them. It was a core doctrine in the Roman Catholic Church, and the Replacement Theology and policies of the Roman Catholic Church shaped the Nazi Germans’ policy. Hitler was brought up as a Catholic and relied on the writings of Protestant leaders who promoted this theology.
Hitler used his indoctrination by the “Christian” teaching that the Jew was the killer of Christ as an excuse to exterminate the Jewish race. As a result, Hitler implemented the Final Solution in 1941. The extermination, therefore, could be carried out without a twinge of conscience since he claimed that he was merely acting as the avenging hand of God.
The Holocaust did not begin with Hitler lining up the Jews for extermination in the gas chambers; it began with religious leaders forming the theology of anti-Semitism through Replacement Theology and sowing the seeds of hatred toward the Jewish people for being “the killers of Jesus.”
Those who teach that the church is the new Israel must use the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture. It is not possible to examine the literal, historical statements of the biblical text and conclude that God is finished with Israel and the church has taken her place.
Scripture plainly teaches that the church and Israel exist side by side, and neither replaces the other—ever! The prophets speak of a coming tribulation, a glorious future for Israel and a Millennial Kingdom on earth, all involving a physical nation of Israel. It is the Christian’s duty to pray for the Jewish people, to support the Nation of Israel, and to minister to them at every opportunity the Lord gives us. As Baptists, we must further understand that our forefathers have never persecuted the Jews. In fact, thousands were spared during the Holocaust by Baptists who forfeited their own safety to rescue the persecuted Jews.
God has not forsaken His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David. He still has a purpose for Israel in His divine plan.
May God help us to be a loyal friend to His chosen people!