So many in today’s Church unfortunately do not understand the heritage from which they come. Sadly, many subscribe to replacement theology doctrines that assume Israel plays no significant role in the Body of Christ. This theology can creep into the very fiber of a Believer’s doctrinal beliefs, literally replacing the role of Israel with the Church.
Some of you may have heard of these theories, while others may not. In order to help you understand more, we have defined this theological belief system in greater detail here…
Replacement Theology or Supersessionism:
Supersessionism teaches that the Church has replaced the role of Israel in God’s original plan. This belief supports the ideas that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and that His end-time plan no longer has a specific focus or future for the Jewish people.
These thoughts are taken a step further with positions stating that the many promises once made to Israel in the Bible are no longer theirs, but belong instead to the Christian Church. The prophecies by the Jewish prophets in scripture are thought to no longer concern the nation of Israel, but are spiritualized to embody the Church alone.
The problem with these suppositions is evident, primarily in the fact that the prophecies of the ancient Jewish prophets, found within the context of the Old Testament, continue to be fulfilled through the Jewish people and her nation, Israel.
While many replacement theologies believe that the Jewish people have been condemned by God because of their original blindness to Jesus as their Messiah, the truth is that through almost 2,000 years of exile, persecution, and mass murder, greater numbers of Jews are immigrating to their ancestor’s homeland than ever before.
“’Therefore behold, the days are coming’ says the Lord, ‘that it shall no more said, “The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but, “The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from the lands where He had driven them.” For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.’”—Jeremiah 16:14-15
So how, knowing this, and comparing the scripture to what is happening in this present day, can there still be so many who hold on to these incorrect assumptions?
What many fail to understand is that early Church history shows a resounding connection with the Jewish roots from which it came. Yet, by the end of the 4th century a terrifying twist began to take place, one that would eventually separate the Christian faith from its original Jewish source. In its place had arisen a false doctrine, fueled by antisemitism, creating a chasm where the connection between the two became lost.
The transformation is evident when traced down through the centuries of time: [i]
- The 2nd century account of “The Martyrdom of Polycarp” mentions that Jews gathered wood for the burning of Polycarp, who was a bishop of Ephesus and a disciple of the apostle John.
- By the 4th century there is a strong element of anti-Jewishness in the Church.
- AD 306 – The Council at Elvira forbade Christians from receiving a blessing from the Jews, or Jews blessing their lands, which flies in the face of one of the purposes of the Jewish nation—to bless the nations.
- AD 325 – In the Council of Nicea no Jewish bishops were invited. Constantine called the council together and urged them to disassociate from anything Jewish. The Western calendar for observing the resurrection of Yeshua was one of the outcomes of this council.
- AD 331-396 – St. Gregory of Nyssa describes the Jews as “slayers of the Lord, murderers of the prophets, enemies of God, haters of God, adversaries of grace…”
- AD 340-420 – St. Jerome had a personal relationship with rabbis, but still calls the Jews “serpents, haters of all men…”
- 4th century – St. John Chrysostom said, “They worship the devil; assemblies of criminals. God hates the Jews. They are absolutely abandoned, no expiation, no indulgence, no pardon.”
- St. Augustine called Jews “witness people,” which meant that their destiny was to be a witness of what happens to a race of people who deny Christ, even while continuing to encourage preaching to Jews.
- AD 589 – The Council of Toledo forbade Jews from holding public office.
- AD 612-621 – King Sisebut demanded either baptism or exile.
- AD 570-636 – St. Isidore of Seville forbade forced baptisms, but if children were baptized to save their lives, they had to be taken from their parents & reared Catholic. (In some situations Jewish people were given a choice of baptism or death, which essentially “forced” baptism upon them.)
- AD 1096 – First Crusade against the Jews, killing those who refused baptism.
- AD 1146 – Second Crusade was the same.
- 12th century – The accusation arose that Jews were killing Christians, especially children, and using their blood to drink for for Passover.
- AD 1179 & 1215 – Lateran Councils ordered separate quarters and distinctive clothes for Jews, a precursor for the distinctive clothing ordered by the Nazis in 20th century Germany.
- AD 1357 to 1350 – During the Black Death Jews were accused of poisoning the wells, thus causing the plague. Some of this may have come from the fact that many Jewish people were observing the health laws of Tanakh and were thus not getting sick.
- 16th century – Martin Luther was at first positive, thinking Jews would “convert,” but he later became virulent in his attacks “God hates them…”
- 19th century – During the pogroms there were 100,000 Jewish immigrants annually. Most came to the United States.
- Hitler defended his position on the Jews by saying, “I believe that I am today acting in accordance with the will of Almighty Creator; by defending myself against the Jew I am fighting for the work of the Lord.”
- In the “Christian” (Roman Catholic and Lutheran) nation of Germany:
- 1935 – The Nuremberg Laws, renouncing Jewish citizenship were passed.
- November 10, 1938 – Krystallnacht was the night during which Jewish stores were vandalized all over Germany, confiscating and robbing Jewish people of their wealth.
While the Jewish roots of the faith have long been ignored by much of the Church, there are still many who have begun to connect the dots where historically the connection between our original sources had been hidden. A new movement has begun where so many within the Body of Christ are longing to relate with the Hebrew God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. To do this we must understand His plan for the nation of Israel and her people. We must come to the revelation that while many in the Church-world have professed that God has officially rejected His first love, the evidence of His favor towards the Jewish people is greater today than EVER before.
As Believer’s in Christ, it is our duty to stand and silence the voices that wish to see the nation of Israel destroyed. It is quite disturbing that any Christian group would support violence or planned boycotts in hopes to destroy Israel’s thriving economy. It is our role to stand against the tyranny of present-day anti-Semitism and point to the ancient God of the Hebrew children who is still working today to fulfill biblical prophecy. God continues to bring the Jewish people into the land of their promise, so that they might be a light to the nations—a light for all to see the truth of a loving heavenly Father who cherishes His children.
When the Church at large begins to grasp the fact that we have been invited into the Jewish story by an act of His infinite mercy, we then better understand that by rejecting the chosen people, we are literally neglecting the very seed from which our blessings are revealed. No, God has not rejected His people forever. He is a faithful God—one who always keeps His promises.
“I ask then: Did God reject His people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin… Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring! I am talking to you Gentiles. In as much as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, ‘Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.’ Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either”—Romans 11:1, 11-21 (NIV)
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: ‘May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’”—Psalm 122:6-8
[i] Finto, Don. Your People Shall Be My People. Bloomington: Chosen Books, 2016.