Has the church replaced Israel?

29 October 2021

Series: Shabbat sermons

Has the church replaced Israel?

Do you believe the church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people? Depending on your denomination, you either subscribe to the idea or believe that God has chosen the church for a time but not rejected Israel. Perhaps you think we are now in the “church age,” and in the future, God will once more reinstate Israel as His chosen people? If your beliefs do not agree with the Bible, you have to be willing to change your beliefs. If you are not ready to submit to the authority of the Bible, you have chosen to reject the Bible in favor of your truths. If you reject the Bible as the ultimate authority, you become guilty of idolatry. So let us submit to the authority of the Bible and see how it answers our questions:

In Ex 4:22, we read; Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son.

In Rom 9:4, we read; They are the people of Israel, chosen to be God’s adopted children. God revealed his glory to them. He made covenants with them and gave them his law. He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises.

In John 1:12, we read; But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

In John 3:16, we read; For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

According to the Bible, Israel is the chosen people of God. They are the ones whom God gave His promises, His covenant, the privilege of worshiping Him. But then we run into an issue with an apparent contradiction between Ex 4:22 and John 3:16. Most Christians see Jesus as a Jew who left Judaism and founded Christianity when He knocked Paul off his horse on the road to Damascus. If Israel is the firstborn son of God in Exodus, and Jesus is the firstborn son of God in John, then it might seem as if this is true. Then God would have replaced Israel with Jesus and, by doing so, replaced the Jews with the church. But if Israel is Jesus, then the firstborn son of God in Exodus and John has always been and will always be Jesus.

Some would argue there is a difference between firstborn son in Exodus and begotten son in John. When we read Exodus in Hebrew and John in Greek, we soon see that the words used for begotten in Greek translate the word used for firstborn in Hebrew. So there is no difference between the two, the firstborn son in Exodus was begotten by God just as God begot the firstborn son in John.

The next question we have to ask is; who or what is Israel?

Reading the Old Testament, we soon see how Israel sometimes refers to the man Jakob, but it can also refer to the nation Israel. In Isaiah 56, we see how it can also refer to a gentile who joins themself to the God of Israel. So Israel has three different meanings, all dependent on the context of the text.

In the book of Romans, Paul the Apostle confirms this when he says not all who descend from Israel are true Israelites. But why does Paul use the word Jew in Romans 2:29 when he could have used the word Israelite?

Jew refers to Judah, the son of Jakob. But it can also refer to a person from the tribe of Judah. In the book of Esther, Esther’s uncle Mordechai is a Benjamite from the tribe of Benjamin. But even so, the book of Esther says he is a Jew because he worships the God of the Jews. So just as with Israel, Jew has three different meanings, all dependent upon the context.

So why did Paul use the word Jew instead of Israelite in Rom 2:29? Because when you read this in Greek, the word Israelite could be falsely interpreted to mean a physical descendant of Israel. But using the word Jew in this context is an almost direct quotation of Isaiah 56, which says everyone, regardless of ancestry, can join themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel.

What did Jesus do?

We believe Jesus died for our sins on a cross; we believe He was the son of God, buried and resurrected from the dead on the third day. All of this is true, but is this all He did? No, He lived among us for three and a half years, teaching us how to obey the law of Moses. As Christians, we believe He kept every commandment in the law that applied to Him as a Jewish man perfectly. In the Gospel of John, He said that keeping the law of Moses is how He showed love for His Father. He taught us to keep the law of Moses, from a willing and obedient heart, to love His Father.

If a Jew and an Israelite are someone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by obeying the law of Moses, then we know Jesus was and is a Jew and an Israelite.
If Jesus is a Jew and an Israelite, there is no difference between the firstborn son in Exodus and the firstborn son in John. Jesus is Israel, and Israel is Jesus, so now we understand how the Bible says the church has never replaced Israel. According to the Bible, the church has not replaced Israel, and God has not chosen the church for a season. We are not in “the church age” Israel and the Jews have always been and will always be the chosen people of Yehovah.

Where does that leave us gentiles? Are we without hope?

Yehovah has never been opposed to the idea of a gentile becoming an Israelite. The only requirement is repentance from lawlessness to law and faith in the cross of Christ. When you believe Jesus died for your sins, His Blood guarantees reconciliation to Yehovah. But not only reconciliation, but it also guarantees you will have a deep desire and a love for the law of Moses. (Jeremiah 31). Through the Blood of Jesus, Yehovah will write His law (the law of Moses) to make it the object of your faith. Then you will become grafted into Israel (Rom 11), you will become a Jew (Isaiah 56) and a child of Yehovah (9:4, John 1:12).

So make the right choice today, repent from lawlessness to law, and be reconciled to Yehovah by the cross of Christ.

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