What would you say is the greatest national victory for modern-day Israel? Most will immediately reply that this came in 1948 when Israel became a nation. I would suggest, however, that an almost equally significant victory has been the seduction of many evangelicals as instruments of Jewish propaganda. Somehow, the church has been duped into believing that the Jews still hold some special favor with God and will be blessed by him for their own sake. The fact is that God is finished with the Jews as a unified nation. They no longer have anything to do with carrying the message of salvation to the world. That mission now belongs to the church.
Watch your local Christian TV station and you will see just how far this If-It’s-Hebrew-It’s-Holy attitude has filled the church. Talk show hosts daily discuss events in the Middle East and then search the Scriptures for some verse that will prove the event’s prophetic significance. Many ministers wear Jewish regalia to draw attention to their affinity for and support of a Jewish Christianity. In charismatic song services, if the “anointing” is sagging, the leader will have the congregation sing a Hebrew-sounding song (always in a minor key) and the people will shout the roof down. Write a book about how to incorporate Jewish Feasts into your Christian worship services and you will have a best-seller.
The problem is not with various people’s expressing their faith and worship within the context of their cultures. The problem—or more accurately, the sin—is when a particular culture attaches a superior value to its cultural expressions of worship.
When Christ came as the mediator of the new covenant, the old covenant became obsolete (Heb. 8:13). The Jews rejected Christ so “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you [Israel] and be given to a nation producing the fruit of it” (Mt. 21:43). There is no longer a partition wall standing between Jew and Gentile. Christ has broken down that wall and has reconciled “them both in one body to God through the cross” (Eph. 2:15,16). As Paul states in Gal. 6:16, Christians—the church of Jesus Christ—are now the “Israel of God.” As for the old Israel, Paul says that “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost” (I Thess. 2:16).
I assert that there is no longer any such thing as legitimate Judaism. Ever since the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, there have been no rituals, sacrifices, priests, adherence to civil laws or any other such observances of a real Jew. In fact, ever since A.D. 500 the Jews have no longer even followed their Scriptures but almost exclusively adhere to the Talmud—a man-made system of religion developed by their Rabbis. This is why it is a joke for Christians to say that we have so much in common with modern Jews (i.e., the Old Testament), for the orthodox Jew always interprets (and thus perverts) the Old Testament through the teachings of the Talmud.
The problem we face today is no different from what Paul faced in Galatia. Though no one is demanding for Real-Christians-To-Be-Circumcised, many do consider you more holy if you observe any Jewish traditions. And if, per chance, you are a Hebrew Christian, three years are knocked off of your discipleship program and you get to go to the head of the class. Of course, one has to wonder how such a mindset will effect the evangelization of the Arabs. Actually, as Gary North has pointed out, if the Arabs understood the intricacies of many of the adherents of dispensational theology, they might grow to like these folks. Think about it. If the Jews in Israel were to have a revival and tens of thousands of them were converted, there would be too few Jews left after the Rapture for the Anti-Christ to even care about invading Israel. If there aren’t enough post-rapture Jews to muster an army with, there won’t be enough Jews in Israel to surround. There simply cannot be a Great Tribulation (that time where two thirds of the Jews are annihilated) if there are too many conversions before the Rapture. So, why evangelize Israel? The dispensationalists need to stay away and not mess things up. This is the part the Arab should like: many dispensationalists rarely evangelize in Israel. There are no great win-a-Jew-for-Jesus blitzes. These dispensationalists just let the citizens of their beloved nation die and spend eternity in hell. Better that than mess up their eschatological maps!
Some will argue, “But Monte, Israel has outlawed Christian evangelism and is even persecuting believers who refuse to obey this law.” Really? This anti-Christ nation has outlawed evangelism and is persecuting your brothers and sisters in Christ and you still insist on giving it your unqualified political support?
Understand this: according to the vast majority of dispensationalists, the State of Israel must be preserved for their system of theology to hold true. For them, no State of Israel means there are no Jews for the Antichrist to murder. No State of Israel, no Armageddon. Therefore, no matter what crimes are committed by the State of Israel against the Palestinians, these dispensationalists must always lobby for the State of Israel. On the other hand, we also must be careful and not lead too many of them to the Lord. So much for those folks who say one’s eschatology is irrelevant!
Dispensationalists believe that the Old Testament prophecies and promises were given exclusively to the house of Israel and, therefore, must be fulfilled to the people of Israel. The problem here, however, is their failure to understand that the church was originally an Israelite body. Therefore, it was qualified to receive the promises claimed by Israel. In fact, the Israelite believers who made up the membership of the church in its conception were the only ones still worthy to wear the name of Israel and Judah.
Dr. Albertus Pieters makes this point in his book, The Seed of Abraham, when he writes:
....Just as it would have been impossible for any Israelite to refuse God’s offer in the Sinaitc Covenant and still retain his standing and rights under the Abrahamic Covenant, so it was equally impossible for those under the Sinaitic Covenant to refuse to accept the New Covenant in Christ and still retain their standing and privileges as the seed of Abraham. There is always but one group that is recognized by God as being the Seed of Abraham, the community with which he is in covenant, and that group, after the rejection of Jesus by the rulers and the majority of the Old Covenant Israel, was the remnant with whom he set up the New Covenant in his blood. The Lord then deposed the unfaithful rulers of Israel and appointed the apostles as the new head of the covenant people.
Pieters goes on to note that, in light of the preceding—as well as many other arguments—the church is the legitimate heir and successor of Old Testament Israel. In fact, the Old Testament prophecies and promises that remain unfulfilled are to be fulfilled not to the Jews but, rather, to the church which is the New Israel.
At this point, the dispensationalist will ask about those prophecies that premillennialists point to as indicating a return of the Jews to Palestine. These Old Testament prophecies were either given before the return from Babylonian captivity (and so were fulfilled by that event) or, as in the case of Zechariah 8:7-8, were given while that return was still in progress (the return having occurred over a period of years). So, any return to Palestine by the Jews at this time has no prophetic significance. When Israel rebelled against her Messiah, they were excommunicated from the Land (A. D . 70). Modern Jews have no theological right to the land of Palestine.
For the sake of argument, however, let’s say that the prophecies concerning a return of the Jews to Palestine had remained unfulfilled. The fourth chapter of Romans implies that the seed of Abraham (cf. Gal. 3) inherits all the promises made to Abraham. The land, therefore, belongs to Christians. Not just Palestine, however, but the world. The Christian meek shall inherit the earth.
The church is the agent God has chosen to carry the gospel. It is the Israel of God. Because of this the promises and prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Israel that have gone unfulfilled will be fulfilled in reference to the church. This, of course, points to a victorious future for the gospel and the church.
The Israelites were the people of God and are to the church what the flower is to the fruit . . . but they are not the fruit. Moreover, nowhere in the New Testament are we encouraged to implement Hebrew culture in our churches. If it’s Hebrew, it might be interesting or even informative but only if it’s Biblically Christian is it holy.
- Monte E. Wilson, III