There is a fundamental misunderstanding in Christendom regarding the nation of Israel and the Jews. This error has existed for centuries and is even now taught in our seminaries as ‘church history.’ That means the most educated members of our faith believe and teach this basic misunderstanding.
This blunder is understandable if you only study documents from the ‘church fathers’ and the ‘great thinkers’ who helped to establish what now passes for church history. However, if we read the Bible and rely on that as our primary source, this mistake is easily corrected.
Before we begin, it should be noted that most Christians are Gentiles. However, everything that we know about our faith comes from the Jews. If it were not for the Jews, we would all be lost.
Jesus himself made that clear when he said, “…salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).
The basic misunderstanding among many Christians is that God has forgotten or abandoned the biological progeny of Abraham. This misunderstanding persists even though the prophets have proclaimed numerous end times promises to the Jews and the nation of Israel that do not include the church. And many of these promises are yet to be fulfilled.
To assert that God has abandoned the Jews and that they are no longer included in God’s plan to save the whole house of Israel is absurd. The fact that the Jewish state of Israel now exists as a nation on the world stage after 1,800 years should be more than sufficient evidence that God is about to fulfill his promises to them. And the fact that Israel is the most hated country on the planet should cause the Christian to abandon worldly thinking and understand its obvious prophetic importance.
Moses wrote to encourage his people:
“Yet in spite of this [Israel’s rebellion, not the church’s rebellion], when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them” (Leviticus 26:44).
“He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel [not the church] as an everlasting covenant; To you [not the church] I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit” (I Chronicles 16: 15-18).
How did the ‘elites’ of the faith miss that, over and over, for the last 1,800 years?
These are the people through whom God chose to reveal himself to the world, which makes them kind of important. The fact that God chose them was a great blessing to Israel, and especially the Jews, but also a great burden that they struggled to bear. There is no other ethnic group that would have fared any better at serving as God’s representatives to the nations.
The Israelites were to be for God a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. All they had to do was to obey God fully and keep his covenant. Then, out of all the nations, they would have been his treasured possession.
Unfortunately for the Jews and the other tribes of Israel, they stumbled because they disobeyed the message that God had entrusted to them. God then established his church, which took up this mantle and became the chosen people and a royal priesthood before the Lord.
It has always been amazing to me that the most learned among the faithful almost always come to the wrong conclusion about Israel and the Jews. They tend to believe that God is done with the people of Israel, even though Paul made it very clear that this was not the case.
I am not certain of all the sources that they were studying to reach their faulty conclusion, but it clearly was not Romans Chapter Eleven.
Paul could not have been clearer when he asked, “Did God reject his people?” and then answered himself: “By no means!”
Those who study ‘church history’ read the passages that follow this proclamation and then contend that his words apply to the church rather than the Jews. They assert that God did not reject his people, Israel, because his people morphed into the church, which is true.
Their error lies in the fact that they falsely believe that God then abandoned his land covenant with Abraham and his biological progeny forever.
To make matters worse, they further falsely believe the promises of the Old Testament prophets to the people of Israel have been nullified.
The biological descendants of Abraham will not receive the land from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates, they insist. They insist that God has apparently reneged on all his promises to the biological offspring of Abraham.
These learned Christians then proceed to misinterpret the rest of what Paul had written with this as their context. However, Paul clears up any misunderstanding when he explains that there is still a remnant of his people chosen by grace. When he spoke of ‘his people,’ he was not talking about the church.
He was talking about his biological people, not his faith people.
Paul loved the brothers of his own ethnic group. Theirs (not the church’s) was the divine glory, the ones who received the covenants and the law, who built the temple and received numerous promises from their prophets.
Unfortunately, the Israelites pursued a law of righteousness and stumbled over the stumbling stone. They became disobedient, and their hearts, by crucifying the Savior, were ‘partially hardened,’ which resulted in God turning his attention to the church.
Unfortunately, many Christians throughout history have taught that, since their works were not by faith, God cut Israel off forever, and they will never fulfill God’s promise that they will one day be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation before the Lord.
God did cut them off, but he never forgot his original people and still has a plan to bring a remnant of them to salvation. As will be shown, the Israelites will follow a different path into eternity than the church. They will take the hard road due to their stubbornness.
If we allow Scripture to speak for itself, it becomes very clear that God’s rejection of his people was only temporary.
Paul writes in his letter to the Romans:
“So I ask, did they [Israel] stumble in order that they might fall? By no means! Rather, through their trespass salvation has come to the Gentiles [through the church], so as to make Israel [not the church] jealous. Now if their [Israel’s] trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their [Israel’s] full inclusion mean!” (Romans 11:11-12).
Paul draws a very clear distinction between Israel and the church in this passage, which means they are on two different trajectories. There is no reason for God to make the nation of Israel ‘jealous’ if he is done with them.
Paul also makes the point that Israel is still fully included in his plan of salvation.
Paul then goes on to make the unmistakable point that the church and the nation of Israel are two distinct entities. And he is not done with those he originally called. Paul writes:
“But if some of the branches were broken off [Israel/the Jews], and you [the church], although a wild olive shoot [Gentiles], were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree [Christ], do not be arrogant toward the branches [the people of Israel/the Jews]. If you are, remember it is not you [the church] who support the root, but the root [Christ] that supports you” (Romans 11:17-18).
Paul goes so far as to instruct the church not to be arrogant toward the branches, which are clearly Israel and the Jews. Despite this admonition, there has been much arrogance in the church regarding the Jews and the nation of Israel throughout history.
The false theology that God has cut Israel and the Jew off forever is a sign of that arrogance.
Paul addresses this issue with the church:
“Then you will say, ‘Branches [Israel] were broken off so that I [The Church/Gentiles] might be grafted in.’ That is true. They[Israel] were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches [Israel/the Jews], neither will he spare you [the Gentiles]” (Romans 11:19-21).
Paul admonishes Christians not to become proud that the church was grafted in and Israel was broken off. In fact, the church is warned it will be treated the same as Israel if we abandon the faith. We will receive the same judgment that Israel will receive for our disobedience.
The Laodicean ‘Church’ is going to face the terrible trials of the tribulation just as Israel and the Jews will. Many of those who represent the Church of Sardis will likewise experience the same terrible trial.
“Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen [Israel], but God’s kindness to you [the Church], provided you continue in his kindness [Remain in the faith]. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they [Israel/the Jews], if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again [God can restore the nation of Israel]” (Romans 11:22-23).
To reiterate, Paul makes the point that he can graft Israel back into the Olive tree, as he has the power to do that.
“For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches [Israel/the Jews], be grafted back into their own olive tree [separate from the church]” (Romans 11:24).
We learn here that Israel and the Jews will be grafted back into their own olive tree. They are on a different path than the church but one that also leads them into eternity with the Lord.
“Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel [not the church], until the fullness of the Gentiles [the church] has come in. And in this way all Israel [the remnant of Israel and the whole church] will be saved, as it is written,
‘The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]’;
‘and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.’
“As regards the gospel, they [Israel/Jews] are enemies for your [the church’s] sake. But as regards election, they [Israel/Jews] are beloved for the sake of their forefathers [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]” (Romans 11:25-28).
The heart of Israel will remain partially hardened against the Lord until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Once the full number of Gentiles to be saved is reached, the church will be taken in the rapture, and God will move to unharden the hearts of his people Israel.
The path they will take is much more difficult than that of the church.
They will experience terrible wars and other judgments from God during the period we call the Tribulation. The prophet Jeremiah called this trial “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” It is not the time of the church’s trouble because the church will not be present during the seven-year tribulation.
Israel will be subjected to one war after another leading up to the ‘Day of the Lord,’ which is the battle of Armageddon. Each war will make them more powerful on the world stage than the one before. Israel will become so powerful that numerous nations will align themselves against it not long after the rapture of the church. One such war, which is found in Ezekiel 38-39, has been written about numerous times by prophecy writers for the last 50 years, so I will not expand any further upon it.
What is important about this war is that God will end his judgment against his people Israel, not the church, and the ‘partial hardening’ will be lifted.
The prophet Ezekiel proclaims:
“From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God (Ezekiel 39:22).” God will no longer hide his face from his people or turn them over to their enemies again.
God will make it known to the nations of the world that Israel went into exile for their sin and their unfaithfulness. He did not exile them because he intended to abandon them forever.
After the Ezekiel invasion, God will be prepared to graft them in again. The prophet Ezekiel made this very clear when he prophesied:
“Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them.
“And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes. I will take you [Israel, not the church] from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land.
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:22-27).
When did this ever happen in the history of Israel?
Moses informed his people:
“When you are in tribulation [ex. Ezekiel 38-39], and all these things come upon you in the latter days [Ezekiel 38:8], you will return to the Lord your God and obey his voice. For the Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not leave you or destroy you or forget the covenant with your fathers that he swore to them [not to the church]” (Deuteronomy 4:26-31).
However, instead of being in awe of what God has done, the nations of the world will align themselves against the nation of Israel and against God himself. For the next seven years, all nations will be attempting to destroy Israel despite God’s protection of his tiny nation.
The prophet Zechariah proclaimed:
“The oracle of the word of the Lord concerning Israel [not the church]: Thus declares the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him: ‘Behold, I am about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah.
“On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it. On that day, declares the Lord, I will strike every horse with panic, and its rider with madness. But for the sake of the house of Judah I will keep my eyes open, when I strike every horse of the peoples with blindness. Then the clans of Judah shall say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem have strength through the Lord of hosts, their God.’
“On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a blazing pot in the midst of wood, like a flaming torch among sheaves. And they shall devour to the right and to the left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem shall again be inhabited in its place, in Jerusalem” (Zechariah 12:1-6).
Those Christians who posit that God has forever abandoned the Jews and the nation of Israel are actually encouraging the nations to rise against them. They are encouraging and justifying Armageddon. In their demonic frustration, the Godless nations of the world will join to destroy the nation of Israel at the end of the Tribulation.
The prophet Joel writes:
“For behold, in those days and at that time when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem [not the church], I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat [the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 16:16]. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel [not the church], because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it” (Joel 3:1-3).
Divided up the land of Israel? I wonder if anyone is trying to do that today.
After the battle of Armageddon, Christ will judge the nations.
Then he will set up his Millennial Kingdom, which will last for 1,000 years.
“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem [not the church] a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they [not the church] shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo” (Zechariah 12:10-11).
Then the prophecy described in the Book of Daniel will be fulfilled:
“Seventy weeks (490 years) are decreed about your people [Israel, not the church] and your holy city [Jerusalem], to finish the transgression [Israel still transgresses], to put an end to sin [Israel still sins], and to atone for iniquity [Israel has not atoned for iniquity], to bring in everlasting righteousness [this has not happened yet], to seal both vision and prophet [many visions and prophecies are yet to be fulfilled], and to anoint a most holy place [A new temple needs to be built and anointed].
“Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks [49 years]. Then for sixty-two weeks [434 years] it [the temple] shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time.
“And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed [Jesus] one shall be cut off [at the cross] and shall have nothing. [Before this generation passes away] And the people of the prince [the Romans] who is to come shall destroy the city [Jerusalem] and the sanctuary [temple].
“Its end shall come with a flood [of destruction], and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And [after the church age] he [Antichrist] shall make a strong covenant with many [including Israel] for one week [the final seven years] and for half of the week [three- and one-half years] he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering [in the rebuilt temple].
“And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate [the temple will be desecrated as Antiochus did previously], until the decreed end is poured out [the Bowl judgments of Revelation] on the desolator (Daniel 9:24-27).”
As for the church during this time, Christ states:
“Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial [the seven-year tribulation] that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth” (Revelation 3:9-10).
Paul makes it clear that, during the Millennium, the church will judge the world [I Corinthians 6:2].
The nation of Israel will lead the nations of the world during the thousand-year reign of Christ. They will be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, in fulfillment of God’s promise, during the reign of the true king.
There are some of the Christian faith who claim that the Millennium is only ‘allegory’ and will not occur. They have managed to allegorize Scripture to the point that they are incapable of understanding eschatology properly.
This misunderstanding is a part of ‘church history,’ and if one wishes to read the works of Eusebius, it is easy to see when this faulty theology began to emerge. One need only read the account of Dionysius and his argument with ‘the literalists’ to find out how ‘church history’ got it wrong.
According to Eusebius, a ‘Christian’ enforcer named Dionysius objected to the ‘literalist’s’ interpretation of Scripture. In particular, Eusebius recorded that Nepos, a great Bishop of the faith, was teaching ‘heresy’ since he: “…taught that the promises made to the saints in the divine Scriptures should be interpreted in a more Jewish fashion and that there would be a sort of millennium of bodily indulgence on this earth.”
So where did Bishop Nepos get this ‘crazy’ idea that the Scriptures should be interpreted in the manner that Dionysius accused him of. Possibly from numerous Scripture like the following passage:
“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations [not the church] 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 disputes for many peoples: and they [not the church] shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-5).
These prophets were addressing the Millennial reign of Christ, not eternity and not the future of the church. Israel will exist as a great nation among many other nations during the Millennial reign of Christ.
The prophet Isaiah follows up on this prophecy in the same ‘Jewish fashion’ of ‘bodily indulgence’ when he prophesied:
“Righteousness shall be the belt of his (Christ’s) waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins. The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:1-9).
“Never again will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years; the one who dies at a hundred will be thought a mere child; the one who fails to reach a hundred will be considered accursed. They will build houses and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat.
“For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, nor will they bear children doomed to misfortune; for they [Israel, not the church] will be a people blessed by the Lord, they and their descendants with them.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear. The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox, and dust will be the serpent’s food. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 65:17-25).
There is no time in human history when any of these things have occurred. It is a future state of the world, and it does not involve the church. The church will be judging the nations with Christ during his millennial reign. Once the Jews and the nation of Israel have completed this dispensation, both ‘branches’ enter eternity as brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'”
When we understand eschatology properly and the plain writings of Paul, to insist that the Jews or the nation of Israel are a forgotten people is foolish. And any Christian who holds an antisemitic attitude is playing with fire.
The very fact that the world still hates the Jews should be more than enough confirmation that God is not done with them. God said that his people would be hated the world over.
This condition will continue until the Millennial reign of Christ.
“…and you [Israel/the Jews] will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth (Deuteronomy 28:25).”
You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule in all the nations where the Lord will drive you [this has happened, and continues to happen, to Israel and the Jews, not the church] (Deuteronomy 28:37).”
“They (the curses of God) will be a sign and a wonder to you [not the church] and your descendants forever” (Deuteronomy 28:46).
The hatred of the nation of Israel and the Jews is Satanic and is the basis of the battle of Armageddon.
The primary responsibility of the church is to issue the call to repentance to all who reject the gift of salvation that can only be found in Christ.
The fact that most Jews are not ready to receive this call is due to an act of judgment from God.
This should not result in the church being angry or dismissive toward the Jews or the nation of Israel. We need to understand that Israel is still under the judgment of God, but they have a great future. We are called to be gracious toward them because, despite their failure, salvation truly did come to us through the Jews.
We are called to patiently proclaim the Gospel to all nations, including the nation of Israel, as God’s plan of salvation unfolds for the branch that was broken off. And we all need to remember that God is going to graft this branch back in.
There are only two sides to this issue. When it comes to the Jews and the nation of Israel, if you are ‘arrogant’ toward them, you are earning the displeasure of God. On the other hand, you have the full approval of Satan.