This week I want to add a bit to what I wrote last week about how the Church through the ages has looked on the Jews.
I’m sad when I see disrespect for the people God has chosen even though I know there are, to be sure, Jews who are corrupt and even though I know that this people has, as a whole, not accepted their Messiah.
Yet, they still are God’s Chosen Ones. See how the Apostle Paul loved his people, the Jews, even though they persecuted him in every city he entered. He insisted that the covenant and the gifts from that covenant are still intact and still theirs!
Replacement theology argues that the Church—believers in Christ—have replaced Israel in the scheme of things pertaining to the Covenant—that is, in God’s plan. The church is “the new Israel” as St. Paul put it. And the people who are believers in Christ are also children of Abraham. And, as a result, the promises of land in the Old Testament and the promises of the return to the land by the Israelites is no longer in force, say the “replacement theology” people.
But other quotes from St. Paul very firmly state the continuing status of Israel and the validity of the Abrahamic Covenant. Listen…here is Paul saying this:
“They are the Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises. To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen. (Romans 9:4-5)
What we are saying is this: “God has enlarged the covenant in Jesus Christ at the same time as He is still working with Israel. And He will work with them in NEW ways in the future.
So…. would that the churches of today, in spite of the stubborn rejection that the Jews show towards Yeshua—would that the Church of Jesus Christ affirm this people….and rejoice as so many of them return to the Promised Land where there they are absorbing their traditions and recalling the mighty acts of their God.
Should not the Church everywhere awake to the miracle that is the modern State of Israel? How likely was it that the Jews would come from the ends of the earth—picking up all their possessions, saying good-bye to all their countrymen and neighbors and established institutions…. and immigrate to Israel? From nearly 100 countries? And should we not--the Church world-wide—every branch of it—perceive and understand the source of this miracle? It is of God. For He says:
“See, I am going to bring them…”
“See, I am doing a new thing.”
* * * * * * * * * * *
Just a little bit from history here.
Think 16th century now. There was a big difference between the churches of the East—the Orthodox and others and….the Roman Catholics represented by the Franciscan monks—the difference between East and West. Get this now:
1. The churches of the East: Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, the Jacobite Syrians and others. These churches had influence in the Middle East, and most if not all of them had an altar in the esteemed Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. They also exercised authority over other so-called “Holy Sites” in Palestine where it was supposed that Jesus ministered. These Eastern churches gave to these places radical devotion with weird physical gyrations and contortions.
These Eastern Orthodox Churches were extremely jealous of their positions in Palestine and paid rich sums to the Muslim leaders to retain these positions.
2. The churches of the West: The Roman Catholics and their Franciscan monks had no part of this fanatic behavior. After the Reformation, the Franciscans retained what power they had in the Holy Land and took responsibility for the Lutherans, Calvinists and other Protestants who visited the Holy Land.
Think 20th century.
The World Council of Churches was formed in 1948 out of churches united to further the missionary movement. But in the 1960’s it turned its attention to “full Christian unity” and took in all the Orthodox churches of the East (Middle East really). These included the churches of Palestine (Jerusalem).
In 1974 the Middle East Council of Churches was formed and joined the World Council.
By the 1980’s the WCC became influenced by radical liberal theology and anti-Zionist thought.
Merkley says: “In the 1980’s as the World Council of Churches became more attached to the Palestinian cause and increasingly anti-Zionist, its official statements on the history of the conflict and its proposals for resolving it increasingly reflected the effects of the introduction into the World Council of Churches of the East. The outcome is that the churches of the West and the churches of the East are now virtually at one in their attitude toward the State of Israel—an attitude of resentment shading over into active hostility.” All these churches “now agree that Israel is an oppressor of Christianity—and that this is so because it is a Jewish state.” (Paul Charles Merkley: Christian Attitudes towards the State of Israel, pp. 73-74)
And so, the mainline churches of our own nation, while they have been losing their moorings in the scriptures have also been infected with anti-Zionism. To them, the Old Testament prophecies have already been fulfilled and/or they are simply allegorical-- written and passed down merely to inspire.
Contemporary Example: Mitri Raheb, Palestinian Lutheran pastor and lecturer at St. Olaf College: “The ancient Israelites are not linked in any substantive or material way to the contemporary, modern state of Israel.” Modern Israel “manipulates sacred texts to justify a political project.” (First Things Magazine, March, 2018) When he said this, his American audience cheered.
There you have it—the contention that present-day Israel is not even connected with ancient Israel and that modern Jews have no historic reason to claim the land to which they have moved!
* * * * * * * * * *
NOTE: Credit the evangelicals and fundamentalists of America for hearing of and considering the horrors of the Holocaust. At the time, Britain was turning away from her commitment to protect the Jews in Palestine. But these American conservative Christians recognized that European Jews were being wiped out—this, at a time when most liberal Christians were denouncing “Jewish atrocity propaganda.” [David Rausch]
The skeptical world cannot see the new thing with any amount of appreciation at all. They see only threats and conflict. The world fixates on the “unfairness” of the glorious things.
But God the Lord bids us rejoice in His gracious kindness to the "Children of Abraham: “See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north, and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth…with weeping they shall come, and with consolations I will lead them back.” (Jeremiah 31:9)
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.