Monday, July 14, 2014

all Israel will be saved: Replacement Theology

I want to state out front that I reject Replacement Theology. I reject, too, the opposing view which states Israel is still in covenant relationship with God. Similarly, I reject the anti-semitism charges which come with those rejections. I trust my reasons will be made clear through my comments on this article by Dr. Gary Hedrick, President of CJF Ministries. (The article names Rabbi Loren Jacobs as author, also. It would seem these two individuals know each other. I am not interested or concerned with exactly which one of the two wrote the article.)

Generally, I prefer a Bible term or phrase rather than one created by men,
hence the Bible phrase in the title of this article. It is not that I am averse or that I take offense at those terms which have been created by men. It’s just that often these terms and phrases are concocted as a means of simplifying for easy understanding of those matters which are supposedly too difficult for the saints to comprehend. These end up being added to the badminton of terms and phrases volleyed back and forth by scholars and others to elevate the discussion to a level above those whom they purport to enlighten.

Replacement Theology is one such term. Simply stated, it is a teaching which states the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. The term has undergone some changes and is also known as supersessionism. The broad spectrum under which Israel is viewed in the article Replacement Theology includes either of these two. 1) The economic supersessionism which states God’s work with Israel has been completed and there is no further connection or purpose for Israel. 2) Punitive supersessionism states God has punished Israel for its rejection of Jesus, the Messiah.

I refer the reader to the article for a brief overview of the historical origins and various explanations of Replacement Theology by different individuals. My response to Replacement Theology in that article is taken from the Tanakh (known by Christians as the Old Testament) and New Testament writings.

all Israel will be saved
The Jewish Tanakh writings were often quoted by the apostle Paul and other New Testament writers. Hedrick cites and quotes the Romans 11:11,12 passage to support his claims for Israel as a covenant people.

I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. 12 Now if their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?

Hedrick’s point is true, valid and indisputable. God has not rejected Israel anymore than the church has replaced Israel. He cites verse 26; all Israel will be saved as the proof text to counter so-called Replacement Theology. However, he neglects an important qualifier noted by Paul earlier.

But it is not as though the word of God has come to nothing. For they are not all Israel, that are of Israel. 7 Neither, because they are Abraham’s offspring,* are they all children. But, “your offspring will be accounted as from Isaac.” 8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as heirs

This important qualifier of the promise by the apostle Paul did not originate with Paul or with Christians today. The phrase is as exclusionary as it is inclusionary and is not anti-Semitic. It is a recurring message in Paul’s writings to continually emphasize that the promise of God is according to faith. This was the message of the prophets to Israel in the days leading up to the captivity of Israel by Babylon. Israel learned that salvation and deliverance would come from the Lord, but only the  remnant, those who had remained faithful to His covenant would return to Jerusalem. This message was not popular with the Jews. It was not well received by Israel anymore than much of what the prophets had to say and which cost several of the prophets their lives.

It will come to pass in that day that the remnant of Israel, and those who have escaped from the house of Jacob will no more again lean on him who struck them, but shall lean on Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. 21 A remnant will return, even the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God. 22 For though your people, Israel, are like the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will return. A destruction is determined, overflowing with righteousness. 23 For the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, will make a full end, and that determined, throughout all the earth. Isaiah 10:20-23
“I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they will be fruitful and multiply. Jeremiah 23:3

For Yahweh says,
“Sing with gladness for Jacob,
and shout for the chief of the nations.
Publish, praise, and say,
‘Yahweh, save your people,
the remnant of Israel!’ Jeremiah 31:7

King Hezekiah sent word to the prophet Isaiah to pray for the remnant.

It may be Yahweh your God will hear all the words of Rabshakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master has sent to defy the living God, and will rebuke the words which Yahweh your God has heard. Therefore lift up your prayer for the remnant that is left.’” II Kings 19:4

I will surely assemble, Jacob, all of you;
I will surely gather the remnant of Israel;
I will put them together as the sheep of Bozrah,
as a flock in the middle of their pasture;
they will swarm with people. Micah 2:12

So, while all Israel will be saved exactly what this means was determined and made clear and neither arbitrarily nor was it determined by the apostle Paul, but by the prophets, the servants of God. Even in the Jeremiah passage quoted above concerning the remnant the prophet elaborated further about a new covenant which God would make with the house of Israel. This promised covenant would not be as the one He made with their fathers who were the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham.

27 “Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh, “that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of animal. 28 It will happen that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down and to overthrow and to destroy and to afflict, so will I watch over them to build and to plant,” says Yahweh. 29 “In those days they will say no more,
“‘The fathers have eaten sour grapes,
and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’
30 But everyone will die for his own iniquity. Every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth will be set on edge.
31 “Behold, the days come,” says Yahweh,
“that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel,
and with the house of Judah:
32 not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt;
which covenant of mine they broke,
although I was a husband to them,” says Yahweh.
33 “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days,”
says Yahweh:
I will put my law in their inward parts,
and I will write it in their heart.
I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
34 They will no longer each teach his neighbor,
and every man teach his brother, saying, ‘Know Yahweh;’
for they will all know me,
from their least to their greatest,” says Yahweh:
“for I will forgive their iniquity,
and I will remember their sin no more.”
35 Yahweh, who gives the sun for a light by day,
and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night,
who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar;
Yahweh of Armies is his name, says:
36 “If these ordinances depart from before me,” says Yahweh,
“then the offspring* of Israel also will cease from being a nation before me forever.”
37 Yahweh says: “If heaven above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath,
then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,” says Yahweh.
Jeremiah 31:31-37

children of the promise
If all Israel will be saved this can not be Israel in the flesh and blood in accordance with the prophets of God. Rather, it is the children of God who are of faith who are to be saved. Paul writes:

8 That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as heirs Romans 9:8

It is through this declaration by which the apostle Paul reminded Jewish Christians of what must surely have resonated with them; that the promises of God going back to father Abraham are according to faith, not flesh and blood. Assuredly, those Jewish Christians in Rome, like those Jews of the remnant in king Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah’s time, lived and walked by faith. Those Jews living during Hezekiah’s reign lived under the law of Moses even while they were surrounded by their kinsmen whose apostasy of unbelief had brought calamity and destruction on Israel.

The first century Jewish Christians in Rome were among those of the remnant, the faithful who walked BY faith and now THROUGH faith. This justification of the faithful is a core message of Paul:

since indeed there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith, and the uncircumcised through faith. (Romans 3:30)
What the justification of the circumcised and uncircumcised have in common is law; _ a word and a concept held with much aversion by many saints in Christ. Law is to be obeyed even such as Paul states, a law of faith in verse 27. Indeed, the priority of obedience was impressed on Israel early after settling in Canaan by the prophet Samuel as he spoke to king Saul:

22 Samuel said, “Has Yahweh as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying Yahweh’s voice? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as idolatry and teraphim.* Because you have rejected Yahweh’s word, he has also rejected you from being king.”
It is a travesty that Christians often view the entirety of Jewish history and not much more than an automated process. The Jewish people are thought of as no much more than automatons whose lives were a drudgery under the law with no joy or faith ever laboring feverishly in vain to fulfill the law. Yes, Israel was bound to live by and to keep the law, but there were children of God who lived by faith just as did their father Abraham. This is not to say these children of God thumbed their nose at the law, but that they too struggled to keep the law even while they maintained a faith in God which exceeded the constraints and ritual of the law.

The church has not replaced Israel anymore than God replaced, abandoned or rejected faith in the individual who seeks after and love God. When God called Israel out of the world; an ethnic nation and later the church; the ethnic nation of Israel and all the ethnic nations of the world it was through faith. The call of those who are of faith today is through faith in Jesus who was raised from the dead and declared to be the Son of God. Even long before Jesus came into the world and long before Abraham those who are pleasing to God are those who walk by faith. This is the Israel of God throughout history. God did not preserve his promise by displacing or replacing those who are a people of faith in God. It has never changed whether it was through the flesh and blood descendants of Abraham or through the Gentiles.

The term Replacement Theology is bad enough as the albeit well-intended effort to simplify for the saints the will of God. The unfortunate and completely unnecessary troubling of hearts which it produces among the saints in Christ as well as Jews is as good an indicator it has no place in the teaching of the church.

The church today, that is, the saints in Christ, no more created the concept of the remnant than did the apostle Paul. King Hezekiah and the prophets of God including Isaiah and Jeremiah revealed this exclusionary term to Israel in the days before Israel was taken captive by Babylon. Their message was that not all those who are Israel according to the flesh would be saved or would return from their captivity, but only the faithful remnant, the children of God, according to faith were those who would return from the captivity.

This is the exclusionary phrase with its limitations which Paul uses in Romans when he states, all Israel will be saved. Clearly, between the prophets of old and the apostles of Jesus any understanding of that phrase must reflect a focus on Israel according to the flesh and the significance of the contrast between that Israel and the children of promise. There is nothing anti-Semitic in this thought and expression and the conclusion that God’s faith covenant with Israel as a people of faith remains intact. However, this covenant is not the same covenant of old. Here again, this was the message of Jeremiah, not something concocted by Paul or the saints today. It is a message which remains for Jews  (and Gentile) to hear and obey no differently than did Paul.

Lets not misconstrue or distort these things even if they may be difficult to understand much less accept. Lets not rail or assail against Jews that they are under a curse or the punishment of God. That reality is not an unfamiliar one in the Israel of history or to Jews today. The reality is that Israel, despite being front row witnesses to the wonders and miracles of God in the wilderness and after He had delivered them from Egypt, were repeatedly caught up in their unbelief. Their struggle of belief is not unlike the struggle of disciples of Jesus to believe and be steadfast. It was an unbelief for which Israel saw some of their own, such as Korah, receive the punishment of God.

As always God bore with Israel even as he does today with them as with all Gentiles who have yet to come to believe and put their faith and trust in Jesus as Lord and Savior. Peace to all.


  1. God made unconditional covenant with Noah (Gen 9:8-17), man cannot do anything to revoke and break that promise of God that he will not completely destroy mankind with flood.; Man has absolutely nothing to do with it Same way God also made unilateral and unconditional cov with Abraham for national Israel Gen 15; Exo 6:4-8. In Genesis 15:6–21, God performs just such a solemn ritual, but first puts Abraham in a deep sleep, and is then seen passing between the pieces alone, signifying the unilateral nature of the unconditional covenant. The imagery itself is interesting: God was represented by a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. The Abrahmic Cov (AC) is reiterated many times as being eternal. Ps 105:8; Ps 105:10; Isa 54:10; Is 41:8-9; 51:2; 61:8 ; Jer 31:35-37; 33:23-26; as Paul too mentioned in Rom 11:28-29.

    The point is that you ignore two different covenants/elections mentioned in the topic of Israel Rom 9 to 11. It is like mixing oranges with apples. National election is irrevocable unconditional. Israel cannot do anything to break it. Whereas cov of salvation is made with Moses, it is purely bitaleral and conditional. Compare all English versions to see actual meaning of Rom9:6 which means as NET puts it "For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel" - this doesn't hint that non-Israelis too are Israel by faith. It only means not all Israel truly belong to Israel, ie. some are in unbelief, they are waste. They don't really belong to the true purpose of Israel; this doesn't mean they cease to be part of whole Israel. The versions like KJV which says "not all Israel are Israel" are misleading which insinuates that gentiles are Israel too.

    The chapter is properly explained in this article "The mystery of Israel’s salvation: A study of Romans 11:26 - Ministry Magazine"

    Paul says "God forbid!" it is impossible that God would forsake or forget them. Their election is irrevocable, and he has not done with them. He started the topic by stating the fact (9:4,5) They are Israelites, to them belong everything. They are the heirs of adoption, glory, covenants, law, worship, promises, patriarchs and even Christ through their race.

    That is to say, they are like the original biological children of God; and you gentiles who are being grafted or adopted in the family of God, do not be arrogant towards the original children, rather fear, and try to make them jealous and bring them to faith. If they can fall off, you can fall even easier. There is only one Israel being discussed in chapters 9-11, that is corporate national body of Jews, the physical Israelites.

    Gentile believers are never referred to as (spiritual) Jews or spiritual Israel, but Paul carefully distinguish them throughout his letters. Galatians
    6:16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, AND upon the Israel of God." - If Paul believed that Church of NC acts like universal Israel (supersessionism) he should never have maintained such distinction between Jews Gentiles; Israeli and Gentile church.

    Only the salvation covenant is extended to Gentile world. The national election or covenant is not extended as though to make whole world "Israel". Israel the nation and identity still remains the same. Paul does not say that whole world is now Israel. Your position essentially assumes that Israel was never chosen in the first place, that God would forsake them. It is supersessionism or replacement theology. Some believers would still label it antisemitic due to the serious theological error. To view Israel's election as a pilot project until the coming of universal new covenant is to ignore the actual purpose and nature of Israel's election. Rom 9-11 was written to refute the growing arrogant idea of supersessionism.

    1. I appreciate your comment, Jacob.

      I am not surprised by the familiar content of your comment and some mistaken assumptions. Even though you ascribe these to my message this may be probably as a kind of standard, default fallout about supersessionism, replacement theology, and, of course, deathblow to silence all _ antisemitic? Along with these assumptions is your reference to “(spiritual) Jews” and “spiritual Israel” two terms which you did not see in my article and which I am not given to using.

      Is my “position essentially assumes that Israel was never chosen in the first place, that God would forsake them?” Really? It may make for an impressive gloss-over especially when coated with the above mistaken assumptions and charges, Jacob.

      Here is what I have stated. It is that Israel (by its very meaning of the name, is to struggle with God) are those who walk by faith. This has always been _ since long before Paul, Moses, Abraham and Noah what pleases and delights God. The practice of the message of Habakkuk that the righteous shall live by faith did not originate with the prophet. Enoch stands as an example of the ancient righteousness which pleases God. It is easy to talk about a distinction between Jew and Gentile with the former as the children of God. This as true as it is misunderstood, Jacob, because the truth is Enoch as much as Abraham, David, and you and I are the Israel, that is, those who struggle with the God whom they love. This reality neither diminishes nor is it some kind of assault on Israel according to the flesh as you (and you are not unique or alone) are inclined to assume.

      Israel is an example, their sins being no less than Enoch or Abraham or my own sins, of a people who believe God. You think to inform me by way of a rhetorical question on the NC (?) church? Even more you presume to instruct Paul that “he should never have maintained such distinction between Jews Gentiles; Israeli and Gentile church?”

      However, you, not I, are the one who has labored to contrive a distinction of your own making between national Israel and salvation. Again, I will leave you to labor on that point, because even if unwittingly you are correct. There is a distinction. Again, you have glossed over the content of Romans 9 thru 11 by saying, “There is only one Israel being discussed in chapters 9-11, that is corporate national body of Jews, the physical Israelites.” I noted that it is neither twenty first century Christians nor the apostle Paul who coined the declaration or made the distinction: “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel.” Here, Jacob, is the distinction in Paul’s own words. The prophets, much to their own peril, declared that same distinction to Israel and it did not go over well with Israel.

      I understand your message is as much about the tract of land of Israel as it is about salvation. I will not concern myself with the former and will leave that for you. You have reiterated what is undeniable and without question. God does not and did not revoke his promises even when Israel fell away into apostasy and were taken captive. He did, per the prophet Jeremiah, inform Israel of a day when he would make a new covenant that was not like the old covenant. The author of Hebrews in citing those words of Jeremiah informs us that when He spoke of a new covenant he has made the first obsolete.