Throughout my study, I have become more aware that there are many who have accepted some popular myths (heresies) and rejected

Introduction: Throughout my study, I have become more aware that there are many who have accepted some popular myths (heresies) and rejected God's truth.  Some of the misconceptions that have permeated church doctrines proclaim that there is no distinction between Israel and the church.  Some believe that the church has replaced Israel in God's eyes, and that God is finished with Israel.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The church and Israel are two mutually exclusive groups, each with their own plan and destiny, and God deals with them as such.

 

Replacement Theology:  A Heresy, which says that since Israel rejected their Messiah, they forfeit their God-given promises over to the church.  This would include a transfer of the promise for land, and a transfer of the promise of the coming judgment upon the people of the earth.  This is the kind of doctrine that caused the Holocaust and continues to promote anti-Semitism.   It is the kind of doctrine that teaches that the church will endure the coming time of tribulation.  To say that God made unconditional promises to Israel and then broke them is to call God a liar, which is blasphemy.   In Ezekiel 36, God makes it very clear that He will never abandon Israel.  Not for their sakes, but because His Name and His reputation are on the line.

The church has not become some sort of spiritual Israel, as some believe.  If we were ever inclined to accept this unbiblical approach, we would be wise to look at
Revelation 2:9 and 3:9 to see how Jesus identifies those who say they are Jews but are not.  Jesus calls them liars of the synagogue of Satan.

Ezekiel 36:21-22 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.  Therefore say to the house of Israel, "Thus says the Lord GOD: 'I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name's sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went."

 

Israel - An Ordained Nation

Israel is God's chosen people; a nation that He ordained.  God, the Father, cut a blood covenant with Abraham, which He swore by Himself because there was none higher.  The Lord makes a seven-part promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3).

 

I will make you a great nation.
I will bless you.
I will make your name great.
I will make you a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you.
I will curse those who curse you.
In you all the families of the world will be blessed!

 

In Genesis 12:7 and 13:4, the Lord makes a promise to Abraham's descendents for the land.  In Genesis 15:18-19, the Lord confirms the covenant to Abraham and his descendents.  He does so again in Genesis 17:4.

Genesis 17:4 As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.


Hebrews 6:17-18 says that this covenant is "immutable", which means that it cannot be forfeited [nor transferred to the church]; it is eternal.  Israel couldn't transfer the promise over to the church even if they wanted to.

Hebrews 6:17-18 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie.

Later in Genesis, God confirmed His covenant again with Abraham's descendants.

Genesis 26:3 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
(Covenant with Isaac)

 

Genesis 28:13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: "I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants." (Covenant with Jacob)

The Lord God owns the land in Israel, but He has made Abraham's descendants (through the line of Isaac) the stewards of it.  The descendents of Ishmael are still trying to take possession of that land.  Zechariah 12:2-3 says that God will make Jerusalem a "cup of drunkenness" or a "cup of trembling" to all the surrounding people.  How can one tiny little piece of land cause so much trouble?  The peace of the entire world rests on one small plot of real estate that belongs to our Lord.  Just watch the evening news!

 

The Church Prerequisites

Unlike Israel, the church is not comprised of a specific nation of people.  The church is made up of people from every tribe, tongue and nation.  And rather than having been ordained by God, the church could not have been born until certain conditions were met.

 

Atonement - Without the shedding of Jesus' blood, we would not have atonement for our sins.
Resurrection - Without His resurrection, we would have no hope of eternal life.
Ascension - Without His ascension, we would not have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

These requirements hadn't been necessary for God to choose out the nation of Israel for Himself, but they were necessary for establishing the church.  Furthermore, the following list of truths can only pertain to the church, and not to the nation of Israel.

 

We Are Saved By Grace

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.

 

We Are The Body of Christ

1 Corinthians 12:27 Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.

 

We Have The Gifts of The Spirit

1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant.

 

We Are The Bride of Christ

2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.  For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

 

We Will be Caught Up to be With Him

1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

 

We Have a Blood Covenant With Jesus, the Son

Luke 22:20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you."

 

The Church

Jesus said that the gates of hell would not prevail against His church.  This is a promise specifically made to the church, not to Israel.

 

Matthew 16:17-18 " And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.

This detail, which is sometimes overlooked, is so important for us to remember, especially in light of the events John is witnessing in Revelation.  This scene takes place soon after the Antichrist is unleashed upon the world.

 

Revelation 6:8-9 And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:

In the above verse, Death and Hell were given power over the people of the earth and to prevail against them.  Jesus already promised us that Hell would not prevail against His church, so the exciting news for those of us who belong to the church that Jesus built is that we aren't the souls under the altar.  These souls, who accept Jesus during the tribulation, don't become a part of His church (the Church Age will have already ended); but they will be called "tribulation saints", and they will be able to live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4).

 

Jesus held Israel accountable

Matthew records what Jesus' initial mission was, and what He requested of His disciples.

 

Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: "Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans.  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

 

He repeats this in Matthew 15:24.

 

But He answered and said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

 

As prophesied by Daniel, Jesus was to make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on a donkey at the end of the sixty-nine weeks ( years).

 

Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the King, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.

 

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!  Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.

 

Jesus knew the exact date that the prophecy should be fulfilled.  When His own brothers encouraged Him to make a public appearance prior to that day, He told them, "My time has not yet come."  But when His time was right, Jesus personally orchestrated the events of that day.  He told his disciples that they would be going up to Jerusalem so that the things written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man would be fulfilled (Luke 18:31).  Then He sent His disciples to get the donkey.

 

Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it.

 

Think about this.  There were multitudes of people in the city of Jerusalem celebrating on that day and many of them welcomed Him as their King.  It should have been His finest moment.  But what did He do?  He wept!

 

Luke 19:42 "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace!  But now they are hidden from your eyes.  For the days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation."

 

Jesus held them accountable to know the prophecies in the Old Testament, but they blew it!  From that moment on, Israel was blinded from knowing the truth.  Since they didn't know the time of their visitation, they would have to suffer horrendous atrocities at the hand of the Romans!

 

Israel won't be blinded forever.  Paul tells us in Romans 11:25 that blindness has befallen Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.  That will be when the Body of Christ is complete, and only God knows what the final tally needs to be.  Maybe we're waiting for my next-door neighbor - or yours.

 

He will hold Israel accountable again!

We saw In Matt. 16:17 that Jesus had informed His disciples that He would build His church, but it wasn't built yet (they would have to wait until Pentecost - 50 days after the His ascension).   The discourse that takes place in Matthew 24 begins as His disciples were admiring their temple, the absolute pride and symbolism of their Jewishness, and what follows is a confidential briefing between Jesus, as a Jewish rabbi, and His Jewish disciples.  His words of warning regarding the signs of the end times are for the benefit of the Jews and the nation of Israel, and He will hold them accountable to know them.

 

In Matthew 24:15 Jesus tells them to pay attention to what the prophet Daniel spoke of.  He wants them to pay attention to what's going on with the daily sacrifices.  On this side of the world, we probably wouldn't even know when the sacrifices started up again, let alone when they are ceased.  This is only a clue to the Jewish people, particularly those who will still be observing the Jewish traditions and will be involved with temple rituals and daily sacrifices.  These sacrifices will be taking place in the new temple in Jerusalem which hasn't been built yet, but plans are under way for its construction at this moment!

 

Jesus tells them in verse 16 that those who are living in Judea must flee to the mountains in Southern Jordan to a city called BozrahBozrah is an Old Testament city in Edom whose name translates as 'sheep pen', which is Petra - a rock fortress that is highly defendable with the surrounding mountains.

 

Isaiah 33:16 He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure.

 

If you happen to be in Judea at the halfway point in the tribulation, this would be a helpful hint.  Be sure to have a good pair of running shoes and a map to Petra!

 

Micah 2:12 I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob, I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many people.

 

Revelation mentions this wilderness “hiding place” where the Lord will keep His remnant safe during the last 3-˝ years.  The church won't need to make a run for it; we'll already be gone.

 

Revelation 12:6 Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.

 

The Lord returns to save His remnant in Revelation 19:13 when He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.

 

Isaiah 63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah, the One who is glorious in His apparel, traveling in the greatness of His strength? - "I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save."

 

Isaiah 63:2-3 Why is Your apparel red, and Your garments like one who treads in the winepress?  "I have trodden the winepress alone, and from the peoples no one was with Me.  For I have trodden them in My anger, and trampled them in My fury; their blood is sprinkled upon My garments, and I have stained all My robes."

 

Another Jewish clue is in verse 17.  The homes in that part of the world are constructed so that the tops of their homes are level with the ground.  They use them as their patios.  Jesus is saying, if you're on your housetop, don't even bother to go downstairs to get your coat, just run!  Once again, here is a clue that would be absolutely meaningless to those of us on this side of the planet.

 

Verse 20 is also talking to Orthodox Jews, as their law strictly prohibits traveling on the Sabbath.  The church has no such restrictions regarding the Sabbath.

 

God is not finished with Israel

Seventy weeks has been determined for God to deal with Daniel's people, Israel (not the church).  Sixty-nine weeks have passed and the last week is yet to take place.  Right now, we are stuck at the 'comma' in Isaiah 61:2.  When Jesus stood up in the synagogue in Luke 4:21, and proclaimed "Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing", He stopped at the comma.  This is what He read:

 

Luke 4:18-19 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,"

 

Aren't you glad He stopped there?  That comma has lasted almost two thousand years.  The next part of the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, but it will happen soon.

 

Isaiah 61:2b and the day of vengeance of our God;

 

The Old Testament prophets wrote about future times not yet fulfilled.  Here's one example:

 

Zechariah 14:12 And this shall be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the people who fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh shall dissolve while they stand on their feet, their eyes shall dissolve in their sockets, and their tongues shall dissolve in their mouths.

 

Not a pretty picture, is it?  It won't be a good time to make travel plans to Jerusalem.

 

The Church is NOT Israel

Those who teach that the church will go through any part of the tribulation don't understand God's purpose of the 70th week of Daniel, nor do they understand the differences between Israel and the church and God's divine plan for each of them.   The 70th week of Daniel is a specific period of time that God has set aside for dealing with the rebellious nation of Isreal and those who have rejected Jesus as their Messiah.  It is a time of judgment and punishment, and a time to put an end to sin, to make reconciliation for iniquity and bring in everlasting righteousness.  Those who teach that the church has any part of this judgment and punishment are teaching Christians that the death of our Lord, Jesus Christ, wasn't sufficient to reconcile for iniquity and SAVE us.  The Bible says that Jesus doesn't just cover our sins, He was made sin for us, and that we have been made the righteousness of God (1 Cor. 5:21).  The Bible also says that Jesus was bruised for our iniquities (Isaiah 53:5).  To teach otherwise is to say that Jesus didn't finish His work on the cross, and that the Christians are still in the same position as the rest of the rebellious world, and that we will be judged and punished along with them.

 

I can't help wondering how it breaks my precious Savior's heart when He sees that those whom He poured His blood out for would rather be included in the Judgment that is coming than to receive the gift that He has already provided.

 

God's time line

In light of the above distinctions between the church and the nation of Israel, we must not confuse the signs and warnings given to each.  There are signs specifically set forth for the Jews to watch for and be aware of for the return of Jesus to the earth at the second coming.  And there are signs and warnings given to the church so that, like a bride in-waiting, we are ready to go when He gets here.  The signs are all in place, and I believe we are just waiting for the fulfilling of a specific feast. 

 

Although 'no one knows the day or the hour' right now, I think we will know it when the day arrives, just like Elijah knew it the day he was leaving. We must be careful not to fall into the same hypocrisy as the Pharisees and the Sadducees.  The "wise" religious teachers were only wise in their own eyes!  Jesus called them hypocrites!

 

Matthew 16:1-3 Then the Pharisees and Sadducees came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven.  He answered and said to them, "When it is evening you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red'; and in the morning, 'It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.'  Hypocrites!  You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times."

 

Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day for not discerning the times in which they lived.  Had they searched the scriptures and the prophecies, they would have marked the very day of Jesus' arrival on their calendars.  They would have been shouting, "The Messiah is coming!"  We too, are called to discern our times and not be in darkness.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:2-5 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.  And they shall not escape.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day.  We are not of the night nor of darkness.

 

Jesus has some strong words for the folks who are willfully ignorant of their Master's return.

 

Matthew 24:48-51 "But if that evil servant says in his heart, 'My master is delaying his coming,' and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites.  There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

 

The church is never told to watch for the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, or persecution and martyrdom.  We certainly can't be looking for the Antichrist and the real Christ at the same time!  Which one is going to dominate your lifestyle?  We are repeatedly admonished to watch for and await His glorious appearing!

 

Titus 2:11-14 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

 

Will you love His appearing, or will He return at a bad time?  Will you be relieved - or embarrassed?

 

1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

 

2 Timothy 4:8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

 

If you ever want to know where we are on God's time line, just take at look at what's going on in Israel.  If you hear of wars and rumors of wars, then you'll know the time of the end has not yet come. 

 

But if you hear of peace and safety, then you will know that we are on the threshold to a period of time that is spoken of in the Bible more than any other time in history; including the days that Jesus walked upon the earth. 

 

1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; "May they prosper who love you." Psalm 122:6

 

"And behold, I am coming quickly,
and My reward is with Me,
to give to every one according to his work."
Rev. 22:12

 

Only by His grace,                               
Linda Vegh

Has the church
replaced Israel?
by Linda Vegh
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