Summary: Part 3 of 3 Many claim that the church is now Israel. After examining the scriptures, we cannot draw that conclusion without denying the accuracy of the Bible. This section looks at the promised and fulfilled inheritance of Israel.
Israel Inherits Promises of Old (Part 3 of 3)
For every curse against the sin of Israel, God follows it with a promise if they repent. It is frequently claimed that once Israel rejected Jesus as their Messiah that God cut Israel out of His plan. From this point of rejection, those who believe this also try to allegorize any reference to Israel in the New Testament by claiming it is a symbolic reference to the church. It is then said that the church is the new Israel. This belief was very popular up until the time Israel was ‘reborn’ as a nation. Before this event, it appeared impossible for prophecy concerning Israel to be literally fulfilled, therefore alternative explanations were sought. Though this belief is not as popular today as it was prior to 1948, it is still a fairly common belief. Those who hold this belief face a three-fold problem.
Three problems with allegorizing Israel
1. One is that they must explain away scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments. In the same passage God forewarns that Israel will be both scattered and gathered again. Why do people say that the Bible is literal when prophesying Israel’s dispersing and then figurative about God gathering them again to their land? Passages that are plainly stated are said to be symbolic. When you start allegorizing scripture you face the bigger problem of determining where to stop. If passages we don’t agree with are figurative, then how do we know that passages we do agree with aren’t figurative? People try to allegorize Genesis so that they are not at odds with the doctrine of evolution. Hell is allegorized so that people are not offended by the thought of judgment; Satan is allegorized so we don’t look superstitions to the world. God’s judgment of sin is allegorized so that people can feel OK about their lives without being challenged to live holy. In the end we have watered down scripture to the point where it is just a book of moral stories instead of the claim the Bible makes for itself in 2 Timothy 3:
16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
If we don’t believe this passage, all other doctrinal beliefs are baseless. All Scripture is an inspiration from God – or literally translated, all Scripture is ‘God Breathed’. We are commanded to study to show ourselves approved by God and rightly divide the Word of truth. Allow the Bible to determine what is figurative and what is literal. When something is presented literal, it is literal. When something is presented as figurative, the context will plainly show that it is figurative. If someone steps in and attempts to override the writer’s intent, they are denying the authority of scripture that was inspired by God. Who has the greater authority; the writer of a book in the Bible that God breathed His word into or someone thousands of years later who tries to re-state what was plainly stated?
2. A second problem that faces those who discount Israel is that, by default, they are claiming that God’s promises have failed. As we get into these promises we will see that they have never been fulfilled. Because of disobedience of the nation, they have been deferred, but because God gave them to the nation without conditions they have not and cannot be cast away. This does not nullify individual accountability. Israel was called by God for a purpose. The promises to Abraham and David were based on God’s covenant, not based on merit. God’s covenant is always based on God’s character and not man’s. Hebrews tells us that God could swear by no one greater, so He swore by Himself. Don’t confuse promises of blessings given for obedience with promises of God’s plan given by a covenant. God called Israel and also made it clear that His call cannot be revoked (Romans 11). They will fulfill God’s plan. Just as the disobedient Israelites died in the desert while God raised others who would be willing to follow Him into the Promised Land, God also is raising up His people to fulfill their call to be a light to the Gentiles. When one will not obey, God will raise up another. Regardless of who is willing to obey, God’s plan will be fulfilled.
3. The third problem with discounting Israel is that it makes the grace of God dependent on merit. Israel is a living picture of God’s grace. Look at the grace of God in an individual’s life. The Bible says that before we received Christ we were at war with God. The Bible says that we as individuals were enemies of God. Yet, while we were enemies and dead in our sins, Jesus justified us who were ungodly by nailing our sins with Him to His cross. Even as children of God, many turn from God’s ways and pursue the world. If we are truly His, the Bible says that God will chastise us and lead us back to Himself. Even though we are in disobedience, God still loves us. God will deal with us based on our responsiveness to His correction. A child who disobeys and repents quickly will not be judged as severely as a child who is stubborn and resistant to correction.