Replacement Theology is intellectually dishonest (or plain dumb!)
To believe God has rejected Israel is to deny reality
Forgive me for the frank title, but in this instance, it is accurate. Replacement theology is the belief that the Jewish rejection of Jesus resulted in God rejecting Israel, in favor of the Church. The Church is the new Israel and the old Israel is simply cursed. All of the promises in the Old Testament to Israel are now to the Church, while the curses remain the property of the Jewish people.
This became official church doctrine by the fourth century, but was popular by the year 150 through the writing of Justin Martyr, where he referred to the Church as the “True Israel.” Shockingly, the root of this demonic doctrine began to grow a mere 19 years after the resurrection. (Read more about that here). It is why Paul wrote such a strong caution in Romans 11, warning them of the consequences of turning against Israel.
“For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” (Rom. 11:21-22)
In 130, Emperor Hadrian went on a demonic rampage against the Jews. They were exiled from Jerusalem, forbidden to enter under threat of death. The name was changed from Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, to honor Jupiter. Judea was renamed Palestine. He wanted to rid the land of every last vestige of Jewishness.
For the next 1,818 years, the Jews wandered the globe without a nation. Having passed through persecutions, the Inquisition, pogroms, the Crusades and ultimately, the Holocaust, indeed, one could have made a strong case that the Jewish people were cursed—that God was finished with them.
The Comeback Kid
However, we have seen so many prophecies fulfilled in the last 150 years regarding the Jews, that one must be blind, dumb or intellectually dishonest to believe that God has replaced Israel with the Church or that Israel is forever cursed.
Here we are, nearly 2,000 years later, with Israel restored and Jerusalem as her capital. You really have to disconnect yourself from modern history to still embrace replacement theology. That would mean that by massive coincidence, Israel was rebirthed in 1948, Jerusalem was restored through the miraculous victory in the Six-Day-War, millions of Jewish exiles came back to Zion just as the prophets predicted, and all this while being the most persecuted people in world history, having suffered 52 attempted genocides.
No nation has ever lost her geographical homeland for more than a short time and remained an identifiable people. Israel wandered for two millennia and survived! Only God could have done that. The very fact that these Jewish fingers can type on this keyboard is proof that God has been faithful to His promises.
Let’s just look at a few of the dozens of prophecies regarding Israel’s restoration and see if they’ve come to pass.
“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.” (Ezekiel 36:24)
Immigration of Jewish people, en masse, began in 1882. Since then, millions of Jews have made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel).
“Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, `Give them up!’ and to the south, `Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth…” (Isaiah 43:5-6, 21)
From the east, they came back from Yemen, Iran and Iraq. From the south, they returned from Egypt, Ethiopia, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. From the west, they poured in from former Nazi-occupied Europe, Morocco, Algeria and the Americas. From the north…we will get there.
“Who has ever heard of such things? Who has ever seen things like this? Can a country be born in a day or a nation be brought forth in a moment? Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” (Is. 66:8)
In one day, May 14, 1948, Israel became a nation. This year marks her 70thanniversary. Never has a “dead” nation come back to life after 2,000 years of exile.
“ This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘I will save my people from the countries of the east and the west. I will bring them back to live in Jerusalem; they will be my people, and I will be faithful and righteous to them as their God.’” (Zech. 7-8)
Jerusalem was restored in 1967. According to this prophecy, God would be the One who does this. I understand that some don’t like the idea of a restored Jewish Jerusalem. Certainly not the U.N. But, “Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’” (Is. 45:9) The answer is ‘no’, by the way.
“However, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when it will no longer be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ but it will be said, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ For I will restore them to the land I gave their ancestors.” (Jer. 16:14-15)
In 1991, the Iron Curtain came down and over 1,000,000 Russian-speaking Jews poured into Israel from “the land of the north.”
“[After I bring you back] I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezek. 36:25-27)
“For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
The prophets predicted that after Israel went through a long season without a government or Temple, and after God brought them back to their own country, they would have a spiritual awakening and embrace the Messiah (David was long dead and buried, but as Peter tells us in Acts 2:29ff, prophecies about David after his death refer to Yeshua.) Today, there are more Jewish believers in Jesus than ever before, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. In Israel, there are over 150 Messianic congregations and growing.
You’re Not Dumb!
Come on. These are just a few of the prophecies regarding Israel that have come to pass. I did not even mention Isaiah 35: 1, which speaks of the desert blossoming like a rose (Israel exports roses from the Negev Desert). Nor did I mention Genesis 12:3, which tells us that Israel will be a blessing to the world (you can’t use your iPhone, instant messaging or go to the doctor without encountering Israeli technology). Clearly, you can see with your own eyes that God is not finished with Israel.
Yes, in the Middle Ages it did look like much of replacement theology was right. But God cannot lie or break a promise, and for 2000 years, He watched over His word and now He is bringing the prophecies to pass.
In the Hebrew language, the number 18 means life. It was exactly 1,818 years from the time Hadrian changed the name of Jerusalem until the time of her rebirth. Coincidence? I think not.
This article originally appeared on Messiah’s Mandate, January 19, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Ron and wife Elana make their home in Tel Aviv. He serves on the pastoral team of Tiferet Yeshua—the Glory of Yeshua—a Tel Aviv-based, Hebrew-speaking Messianic congregation. Ron is a published author with Destiny Image Publishers, having written books like “Identity Theft”, “Leave Me Alone, I’m Jewish” and “The Jerusalem Secret”. Ron is a sought-out conference speaker and shares passionately about the Jewish Roots of the New Testament and God’s broken heart for His ancient people Israel.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Victory and persecution in Revelation
One of the most precious promises in the Bible is Acts 2:17, that “In the Last Days, says the Lord, I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh.” We understand this to be a promise of a world-wide revival in the end times. (Yeshua also said that the “harvest is the end of the world” – Matthew 13:39.)
Some people do not believe in such a revival in the end times. They point to the prophecies about persecution and tribulation and the antichrist in the end times, and conclude (reasonably enough) that there could be no widespread revival.
So which is it? Revival or persecution? Victory or tribulation? The answer of course is “both.” There is revival in the midst of persecution; victory in the midst of tribulation.
One way to see this balance is by an overview of the book of Revelation. There we see a clear description of the evil empire of the antichrist and the massive murder of true believers around the world (Revelation 12, 13, 15).
On the other hand there is no book in the Bible that teaches more about victory and overcoming. Every single one of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 are enjoined to “overcome.” Presumably, this spiritual encouragement to be an overcomer is relevant to all of us as believers in Yeshua even today.
Yeshua is the Lion of Judah who overcomes – Revelation 5:5
Our prayers will have power (Revelation 8:3-5); biblical prophecies will challenge the nations (Revelation 10:11); the community of faith will be glorified like a mother giving birth yet attacked by a dragon (Revelation 12:1-4); we overcome by the blood of Yeshua (12:10); there is a harvest of both good and evil in the end (Revelation 14); praise overcomes the evil power of the beast (15:2-3).
The book of Revelation, as the last book of the Bible, describes a period of great moral darkness, yet a people of glory and purity in the midst of that darkness (Isaiah 60:1-3). It is not all dark; and certainly not all light. The light becomes purer; the darkness becomes more evil. Both occur at the same time. Therefore the book of Revelation has more passages about victory and more passages about persecution than any other.
This truth or balance can be missed on either side. When Yeshua returns, the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of God (Revelation 11:15). There is not total dominion before that time. Goodness will grow inside the people of God until it finally fills the earth. But that fullness does not come until Yeshua’s return.
In this age, there is a beautiful progress in the kingdom of God. We come into unity of faith (John 17); the Church comes to her fullness (Romans 11:25); Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26); the “bride” will be made ready (Revelation 19:7).
The fact that the book of Revelation speaks so much about both “victory” and about “persecution” shows that the two seeming contradictory aspects happen at the same time. Let’s maintain such a balanced view.
This article originally appeared on Revive Israel, January 11, 2018, and reposted with permission.
Asher Intrater is the founder and apostolic leader of Revive Israel Ministries, and oversees Ahavat Yeshua Congregation in Jerusalem, and Tiferet Yeshua Congregation in Tel Aviv. Asher was one of the founders of Tikkun International with Dan Juster and Eitan Shishkoff, and serves on the board of the Messianic Alliance of Israel and Aglow International.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
Ezekiel’s dry bones prophecy about Israel coming back to life
“There was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them.
But there was no breath in them.
Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.”
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” (Ez 37:7-10)
On the eve of 2018, Israel’s population reached a new height of 8.8 million, the vast majority of whom are Jewish . The restoration of the people of Israel to their biblical homeland is one of the events most frequently prophesied about in the Bible. In his earnest studies of biblical prophecy back in the 1600s, Sir Isaac Newton wrote that it was foretold in “all ye prophets” .
But as in Ezekiel’s vision, the physical resurrection precedes the spiritual.
Israel may be reestablished, the dry bones of the post Holocaust people may have been restored, but the second stage of spiritual revival is not yet done.
“Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel… And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.” (Ez 37:11-14)
The story of Israel’s restoration is both physical and spiritual. Body and breath.
The foretold re-establishment of the Jewish state has risen out of the ashes of the Holocaust, and the promised spiritual revival is starting to take place.
Just as the physical restoration of Israel has happened in stages (Balfour Declaration 1917, San Remo 1920, League of Nations 1922, UN Resolution 1947 and declaration of independence 1948 ), so we see spiritual life breathed back into the people due to several significant and observable developments.
Just as the inevitable moment came when the largest Jewish population in the world finally moved from the US to Israel, so the center of gravity for the Messianic world is shifting. The exponential growth of Messianic believers in Israel is no longer only by immigration, but now more than ever, homegrown Israelis are accepting Yeshua as the Messiah in unprecedented numbers. God is reviving the people of Israel.
Growth since 1948
- In 1948, there were approximately ten million Jewish people around the world who had survived the Holocaust, and about 600,000 were living in Israel. Of those, only 23 of them believed in Yeshua as their Messiah. There were some churches led by denominations and missionaries in Israel, but there were no messianic congregations at all.
- In 1989 Israel’s Jewish population had grown to 3.5 million, and by this point the estimated number of believers had reached 1200, and there were now 30 congregations.
- By 1999 there were 4.8 million Jews living in Israel, 81 Messianic congregations, and an estimated 5000 believers.
- In 2017, 300 congregations were counted in a survey conducted by Israel College of the Bible, undertaken to get a clearer picture of the body of Messiah in Israel . It has become increasingly difficult to accurately identify the number of Jewish believers in Israel, but a conservative estimate is now 30,000.
The growth has not been linear, but exponential.
Today almost everyone we talk to have heard of this growing movement of Messianic Jews in Israel. Testimonies of Jewish believers and answers to common objections to faith can all be easily found as soon as someone starts searching for the Messiah. This has proved wildly successful. Of the 8.8 million Israelis, seven million are Jewish, yet our evangelistic videos in the Hebrew language have been viewed more than fourteen million times!
“Come from the four winds, O breath!”
Just as Ezekiel was told by God to command breath to come from the ‘four winds’ to breathe life back into the resurrected physical bodies of Israel, so the gospel has come from all corners of the earth, back to the place of its origin. The nations have had a part to play in restoring Israel both physically and spiritually, and as God promises, the nations will also be greatly blessed by Israel’s eventual restoration which is to come. As Paul writes in Romans 11:11,
“Now if their trespass means riches for the world, and if their failure means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!”
Scholars back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries could say with confidence that God’s promise to restore Israel would certainly come to pass, and similarly, we can know today that according to the Bible, God has not finished with Israel. Not one word of God’s will fall to the ground. We are in the very privileged position to witness so much of prophecy coming to pass in our days and in recent history, and such exciting developments happening in the expanding Messianic Jewish body in Israel, but there is more to come. Much more.
“I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
“and this will be my covenant with them
when I take away their sins.”
…For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
 At the end of 2017, the population of Israel reached 8.793 million according to Israel’s Central Bureau of statistics reports.
 S. Snobelen, “The Mystery of This Restitution of All Things”: Isaac Newton on the Return of the Jews. p.99 https://isaacnewtonstheology.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/isaac-newton-on-the-return-of-the-jews.pdf
 There were several key stages to the legal reformation of the state of Israel:
a) The Balfour Declaration, 1917: the UK with support of four other nations declared a homeland for the Jews in Palestine after defeating the Turks
b) The San Remo Article 22, April 1920: Ratified the Balfour Declaration as internationally binding law
c) The League of Nations 1922: A legal document titled “Mandate for Palestine” was unanimously approved by all 51 states of the League laying down the Jewish legal rights in Palestine: “Recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.”
d) UN Resolution 181: UN member states voted to partition Palestine in 1947, although with a smaller share for the Jews. The original Mandate for Palestine had given the area east of the Jordan river to the Arabs and west to the Jews, but the UN resolution allotted 77% of that area as a Jewish homeland.
e) The 1948 invasion by the surrounding Arab nations and their surprising defeat led to Israel declaring independence in May that year.
 “The Messianic Jewish Movement in Modern Israel” 2017
This article originally appeared on One for Israel and is reposted with permission.
ONE FOR ISRAEL strives to be the leading organization in sharing the Gospel of Yeshua the Messiah with Israeli Jews and Arabs in the Hebrew language. Our staff is comprised of both Jewish and Arab Israelis, with the shared belief that true peace in the Middle East can only come into existence under Yeshua.
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
If Yeshua was G-D, how did He die?
As a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus) and a Messianic Rabbi, one of the most often asked questions I receive is, “If Yeshua was G-D, how did He die? After all, G-D is eternal, isn’t He?”
Over the years, I have spent a great deal of time answering this question to both Jewish people (seeking meaningful answers to their deep questions about Yeshua) and also Gentiles, believers and non-believers. This question is extremely complex because it involves the essence and make-up not only of G-D, but also man. While the question is complex, the answer is actually very simple and easy to understand. In fact, most people make answering this question much more difficult than it should be because they are answering the wrong question.
Too often, when asked this question the person answering gets all twisted up describing the nature of G-D and His ability to do anything He wants. After all He is G-D. They might even attempt to explain the complex issue of the G-dhead by doing their best to explain the roles and functions of each aspect of G-D. The Father “Creator,” The Son “Redeemer,” the Holy Spirit “The Regenerator,” and in doing so make an effort to say how Yeshua died while the Father lived, or some other combination of thoughts related to the unique unity that is our G-D.
As believers, we frequently gravitate to the most difficult and complex answer to questions instead of going to the simplest and most direct answer. In this case, the answer has less to do with the nature and make-up of G-D than it does with the nature and make-up of man.
What is the simple answer you may ask? The simple answer is that Yeshua died exactly the same way every human being has ever died. The flesh he was robed within died. We must begin with the foundational truth that humans are eternal souls or beings dwelling within a temporal body of flesh. When we die, our flesh dies, but our soul lives on forever somewhere. For the believer, that somewhere is in the eternal presence of G-D, and for the unbeliever, that somewhere is eternally separate from G-D. I am not going to get into an explanation on the understanding of those two places – that’s for another blog. For this blog, it is important to remember that, as John 1:14 tells us, G-D robed Himself in flesh, and 1 Timothy 3:16 says:
Now beyond question, great is the mystery of godliness: He was revealed in the flesh, Vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Trusted throughout the world, Taken up in glory.
So in the same way that we are an eternal being robed within a temporary tabernacle of flesh, Yeshua came to this world as an eternal being robed within a temporary tabernacle of flesh. The flesh died on the cross as atonement for all. But, the eternal being within lives on for all eternity. You see, in order to understand how G-D could die, we first have to understand how we die.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, #ManWisdom, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, Jesus is to Christianity as Pasta is to Italians, and his most recent book God Has No Plan "B".
Sign up for KNI weekly updates
A disciple and his rabbi
To what can we compare the relationship between a first century rabbi and his disciples? Yeshua used different metaphors to describe it. He compared it to that of a shepherd and his flock. He compared it to a bridegroom and wedding guests. In one place, he compared it to a vine and branches. In Matthew 10, Yeshua expressed the relationship between a teacher and his disciples in terms of a master to a slave and a head of household to the members of a household.
Because of that close relationship, Yeshua knew that His disciples would face persecution for being identified with Him. He told His disciples that they could expect the same treatment He received:
A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! (Matthew 10:24-25)
This warning quotes a rabbinic axiom a rabbinic axiom about the relationship between a disciple and his teacher which explains that a true disciple endeavors to become like his teacher: “A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). A disciple’s highest goal was imitation of his master, and therefore, a disciple could expect to receive the same maltreatment and difficulty that his master received.
Rabbi Yeshua compared Himself to the master of a house and his disciples to members of the household. Since people had already maligned the master of the household, the members of the household could expect the same type of defamation.
He urged His disciple not to let fear of persecution intimidate them from proclaiming His teachings:
Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. (Matthew 10:26-27)
The rabbis of that day transmitted mystical teachings as a secret, esoteric tradition. Certain mystical secrets could not be taught publicly or even in a private setting unless the teacher did so one-on-one with his disciple. Even then, the sage passing on the secret mysteries whispered his teachings to his pupil lest others overhear. Likewise, our Master taught His disciples “the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 13:11), but He told them to fearlessly proclaim those mysteries publicly.
This article originally appeared on First Fruits of Zion and is reposted with permission.
First Fruits of Zion specializes in the study and teaching of Scripture from its historical, linguistic, and cultural context. Using the latest scholarship, ancient Jewish sources, and extra-biblical literature, we present a Messianic Jewish reading of the Bible and early Jewish-Christianity. We do this by publishing books, ebooks, magazines, journals, study programs, audio and audio-visual resources, and presenting new material through seminars, conferences, and guided Israel tours.