Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Love's Enduring Promise

Ever since the Fourth Century, when the Church adopted Amillennialism and began to divorce itself from its Jewish heritage, the prevalent Christian view concerning the Jews has been that "God washed His hands of them" in the First Century when He poured out His wrath on Jerusalem and allowed the Jews to be dispersed worldwide. An accompanying doctrine that developed over the years is called "replacement theology." It is the idea that God replaced the Jews with the Church, that the Church has become the "new Israel," and that the Church has inherited all the blessings that were previously promised to the Jews. Needless to say, these ideas have served as a source of much of the anti-Semitism that has characterized the Church for the past 1600 years.

The idea that God has "washed His hands of the Jews" is thoroughly unbiblical. In Jeremiah 31:36 God says the Jewish people will continue to be "a nation before Me forever." He emphasizes the point by saying they will continue as a special nation of people until the fixed order of the universe ceases, or until all the heavens and ocean depths have been measured (Jeremiah 31:36-37). In Isaiah 49:14-16 God uses a different metaphor to emphasize His devotion to Israel. He says that He has the nation inscribed on the palms of His hands!

There are three chapters in the New Testament that strongly emphasize the continuing love of God for the Jews. These three chapters have been despised and ignored (or spiritualized into meaninglessness) throughout much of Christian history. The chapters are Romans 9-11. In Romans 9:4 Paul writes that God still has covenants with the Jews which He promises to fulfill. He then makes it clear that the Jews who will receive the blessings are a great remnant that will be saved in the end times (Romans 9:27).

Paul even specifically addresses the question of whether or not God has rejected the Jewish people. He asks, "God has not rejected His people has He?" (Romans 11:1). For 1600 years the Church has answered this question with an unqualified, "Yes!" But Paul answers it by saying, "May it never be! . . . God has not rejected His people whom he foreknew" (Romans 11:1-2).

But what about their disobedience? What about their rejection of God as king of their nation and Jesus as king of their hearts? Hasn't their disobedience nullified the promises of God? Again, Paul specifically deals with this issue. He asks, "What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it?" (Romans 3:3). And again, for centuries the Church as responded, "Yes!" But not Paul. He responds by saying, "May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar" (Romans 3:4).

Paul becomes so overwhelmed by the grace of God in never giving up on the Jews, that he finally goes bursts froth with an ecstatic proclamation: "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!" (Romans 11:33).

HAT TIP: Lamb & Lion Ministries

Jeremiah 31:35-37
35Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:

36If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.

37Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.

Isaiah 49:14-16
14But Zion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me.

15Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.

16Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.