At issue is the view that Jews who reject Jesus as the Jewish Messiah are consequently condemned by God, forfeiting the promises otherwise due to them under the covenants. Versus the view that God STILL has a plan for national/ethnic Israel which He will ultimately fulfill in the future. This is an either/or question: it cannot be both. If you cannot understand the role of Israel in God’s plan, you cannot understand the Bible. So which view should you believe and why?
Amillennialists – representing the largest view in terms of sheer numbers (e.g. Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, Methodist, Church of Christ, etc.) – hold that God is finished with national, ethnic Israel and that the Church is now God’s only vehicle and only people. Many of these Amillennialists bristle at the term “replacement theology,” saying it is not accurate. They prefer terms such as “supersessionism” or “expansion.” But what does it mean to “supersede?”
Merriam-Websters’s definition: “to take the place of (someone or something that is old, no longer useful, etc.) : to replace (someone or something); to cause to be set aside; to force out of use as inferior; to take the place or position of; to displace in favor of another.” The term “supersessionism” comes from two Latin words: super (on or upon) and sedere (to sit). Thus it carries the idea of one person sitting on another’s chair, displacing the latter. The title “replacement theology” is this merely an obvious synonym for “supersessionism.”
From Wikipedia: “Supersessionism, also called replacement theology or fulfillment theology, is a Christian theological view on the current status of the church in relation to the Jewish people and Judaism. It holds that the Christian Church has succeeded the Israelites as the definitive people of God or that the New Covenant has replaced or superseded the Mosaic covenant. From a supersessionist’s “point of view, just by continuing to exist [outside the Church], the Jews dissent”.” And in its Etymology section it states: “The word supersessionism comes from the English verb to supersede, from the Latin verb sedeo, sedere, sedi, sessum, “to sit”, plus super, “upon”. It thus signifies one thing being replaced or supplanted by another.”
So, in spite of a great deal of quibbling over semantics, there is very little question that yes, Amillennialism DOES IN FACT hold to “replacement theology.” It is simply dishonest to hold otherwise.
For the record, another of the three major views on eschatology – Postmillennialism – ALSO believes in “replacement theology.” [See also here]. Their claim is that the Church took over all of Israel’s blessings/promises. ONLY Premillennialism believes God STILL has a plan for national/ethnic Israel.
Let’s go back to the source of this view: In its simplest expression, replacement theology could be expressed as follows: “The Jews have rejected Christ; therefore God has rejected the Jews and the Church is now the ‘New Israel.’” In the words of Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.):
“We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation, for they have committed the most abominable of crimes, in forming this conspiracy against the Savior of the human race…hence the city where Jesus suffered was necessarily destroyed, the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election.”
- “The Israeli claim to Palestine as a Jewish state by divine right is incorrect, and their continued enforcement of this claim, by military oppression, is unjust.”
- The progressive revelation of scripture makes it clear that today God has only one people and it is the Church. We must not apply Old Testament prophecies to the State of Israel when Jesus, Peter and Paul have radically redirected our thinking concerning the Covenants of Promise. They are now given directly to the Church.
- “It is a mistake for Christians to exalt Israelis to the position of being God’s chosen people.”
Should we believe this? Consider two verses of Scripture (Jeremiah 31:35-36) that prove we shouldn’t:
- This is what the LORD says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day, who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar– the LORD Almighty is his name: “Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,” declares the LORD, “will Israel ever cease being a nation before me.” declares the LORD. — Jeremiah 31:35-36 NIV
First of all, God gave that land to ISRAEL as an EVERLASTING POSSESSION: Gen 12:1; 12:7a; 13:15; 15:18; 17:7-8; 17:19; 25:5-6; 28:3-4; 28:13-15; 32:28; Leviticus 26:40-45.
And I state for the record that I continue to see the sun, the moon, the stars, and the ocean tides continue. AND SO ACCORDING TO GOD’S PROMISE HE IS NOT FINISHED WITH NATIONAL ISRAEL.
Let’s consider the Abrahamic Covenant: “I will confirm my covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you. And I will give the entire land of Canaan, where you now live as a foreigner, to you and your descendants. It will be their possession forever, and I will be their God.” — Genesis 17:7-8 NLT
Questions: “What does ‘everlasting covenant’ mean?” “What does ‘I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you’ mean?” “What does ‘It will be their possession forever’ mean?”
Was Israel completely faithful? Let’s just agree they were completely faithless. But what does the Mosaic Covenant say about this. Did God say He would permanently sever His covenant?
And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey His voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and He will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. —Deuteronomy 30:1-5 ESV
What happens in this passage? Does God say here, “If you mess up, I am DONE with you!”??? NO!!!
What about the Davidic Covenant?: “Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime, And as since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused thee to rest from all thine enemies. Also the Lord telleth thee that he will make thee an house. And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever. “ — 2 Samuel 7:10-16 KJV
Again, in reference to the Davidic Covenant: “If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah.” — Psalm 89:30-37
How does this passage not tell us that even if Israel forsakes God He will NOT “utterly take from him” and “His covenant He will not break,” but that “his seed shall endure forever.”???
Remember we read Jeremiah 31:35-36? Consider these verses just before it. It is one of the great promises in all of Scripture and why I am a Christian and not a Jew – because this Old Testament passage promises the NEW Covenant which Jesus inaugurated in His Body and Blood. But note who God makes this covenant with: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 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 my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” –Jeremiah 31:31-34
When the angel came to announce the Virgin Birth of Jesus to Mary, he gave to her a crystal clear reference to a literal fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7 regarding David’s throne: “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. — Luke 1:30-33
What does the New Testament say about God’s relationship with Israel? Does it tell us that God is DONE with Israel and that they can and have been “replaced” in His plan? Jesus’ words: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” – Matthew 23:37-39
Jesus prophesies to Israel that they would be left desolate and not see their Messiah again. UNTIL THEY SAY… And THEN they will be completely restored just as the rest of God’s word promises.
Paul’s words: For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: — Romans 11:25-26
Here the problem becomes worse for those who want to claim God is done with Israel and the Church fulfils all of Israel’s promises and blessings. Because after clearly distinguishing between Gentile believers and Jews, Paul states that the Jews will come back to God and be saved. And so how on earth can they claim to be both the Gentiles AND the Jews at the same time and in the same sense when God’s word contrasts them this way???
One day, Paul promises, the Jews will come BACK to their true Messiah, as it is written: “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.” – Zech 12:10
And on that day, national/ethnic Israel WILL say, just as Jesus prophesied, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” and God will restore them as His Covenant people, just as He said He would all along. Otherwise, these prophesies were FALSE. Because it is very obvious historically that “the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” have NEVER to this moment repented over what they did to their true Messiah Jesus. This event MUST happen, which simply means amillennialists and postmillennialist are profoundly wrong.
Just before Jesus ascended to Heaven in Acts chapter one, His disciples “asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” — Acts 1:6. If Jesus was NOT going to restore the kingdom to Israel, this would have been the obvious moment to tell them, dontchathink?
God’s Word GUARANTEED that Israel would be resurrected in the very last days (see Ezekiel 37:11-12). There is NO condition for Israel to fulfil for this to happen: and how COULD they have–they were DEAD!
God is absolutely NOT finished with Israel. He has a plan to restore them and fulfill His EVERY promise.