Import jQuery

Church: The Israel of God?

..the Israel of God, with no allegiance to, ahem, Israel.

There are times when I don’t know whether to keep my mouth shut for unity’s sake, or to speak up for what’s right.

This past week, a real-life Christian friend, Brian, wrote on Facebook a long note that angered me. Since Facebook is a walled garden, I can’t link to it here, you can’t see it; I’ll post the gist of it here.

His note dealt with at least 3 things:

  1. That Christians ought not to support the state of Israel.
  2. That the Church is the New Israel.
  3. Jews are no different than gentiles in the New Testament era.

Well, I spoke up. Especially about the 2nd one. Was I right to?

Here’s some snippets of what my Christian friend said,

Does the Christian church have a political obligation to support the present day nation of Israel? In yesterday's message our pastor highlighted this as a definite necessity among other vital Biblical issues worth standing up for. I find it difficult to find New Testament warrant for this & my first thought is that Christ and His disciples had little if any stake in the political intrigues of Israel under the Romans, with the notable exception of Simon the Zealot - who is given no endorsement as such, but simply seems to have this as a qualifier to his name.

It’s a fair question. We’ll deal with this shortly. My friend then quoted from a Reformation Bible study,

The church exists in and through Jesus Christ, and so is a distinctive New Testament reality. At the same time it is continuous with Israel, the seed of Abraham and God’s covenant people. The new covenant under which the church lives is a new form of the relationship in which God says to His chosen community, “I will be your God and you shall be my people” Under the new covenant, the Old Testament priests, sacrifices, and sanctuary have been superseded by the mediation of Jesus (Heb. 1-10). Believers in Christ are the seed of Abraham and the people of God. Second, the limitation of the old covenant to one nation (Deut. 7:6; Ps. 147:19,20) is replaced by the inclusion in Christ on equal terms of believers from every nation. Third, the Spirit is poured out on the church, so that fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:3), ministry from Christ (John 14:18; Eph. 2:17) and foretastes of heaven (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:14) become realities in the experience of the church.
The unbelief of most Jews (Rom. 9-11) and the majority of Gentiles in the church is depicted by Paul as God’s breaking off the natural branches of His olive tree (the historical covenant community) and replacing them with wild olive shoots. The new covenant does not exclude Jews, and Paul taught that their general rejection of it will one day be reversed. The New Testament teaches that the church is the fulfillment of the Old Testament hopes and patterns, brought about by Jesus Christ. The church is the family and flock of God, His Israel (Gal. 6:16), the body and bride of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit.


My Christian friend ended by saying,

So, here is my thesis: The Church, as the true Israel of God, owes no political allegiance to any nation, regardless of Biblical prophecy about a restoration of the Jewish state.

I cringed at “The Church, as the true Israel of God”. I nearly got up in my chair and started yelling at the computer screen when I read, “The Church is … God’s Israel”, knowing full well this kind of replacement theology has contributed to 2000 years of persecution of Jews at the hands of the Christian Church.

Various commenters chimed in:

“I agree, there is no evidence from the Bible that warrants a political obligation to Israel!”

“I just don't think that we need to involve ourselves in political support when we have a clear mandate from Scripture to offer them the gospel.”

It made me want to type a furious reply that would show these horribly misguided Christians just how foolish these ideas are. I wanted to grab these people, shake them by the shoulders and say, “Do you read your freakin’ Bible?! Wake up!”

Fortunately, I cooled down. I wrote a soft reply.

Be careful with this, Brian. It sounds awfully like replacement theology -- the belief that Christians have replaced Jews as God's people. This evil theology has caused Christians to persecute Jews over the last 2000 years.

We sparred back and forth between almost 70 comments until finally links to anti-Zionist, Holocaust-questioning Christian websites were pasted in, at which time, Godwin’s Law was invoked, and the debate ended. ;-)

I’m sad it ended that way.

However, I did my best to avoid personal attacks and name-calling. I was careful to use the Scriptures to rebuke replacement theology without attacking personally its espousers. In the end, I felt the other side was discouraged by all this, which was not my intention. At the same time, I believe Christians who read the thread will think twice before accepting Church doctrines like, “The Church is the New Israel”. So maybe some good came of this.

Dear blog readers, I am trying to keep blog posts shorter and more readable. Everybody loves bite-size minis, right? So I’m scheduling a new post for Thursday that addresses the 3 points of Brian’s posts.

Until then, what do you fine blog readers think? Is the Church the New Israel? And should Christians support the modern state of Israel?


  1. Brian quoted... "The new covenant does not exclude Jews, and Paul taught that their general rejection of it will one day be reversed."

    I think Brian's intent was to convey that the Church was an essential part of the New Covenant...but it came across as them replacing Israel. I don't think he was saying that the Church literally replaced Israel, but I could be wrong.

    I think many Christians fall of the band wagon when they no longer view themselves as being grafted IN to Israel as Romans 11 illustrates; and many often neglect the admonishment of Paul; ..."do not be arrogant toward the natural branches" -Romans 11:18

    The Covenants (both of them) are made with Israel and Israel alone. This is evident throughout all of scripture.

    those in the Church/Assembly/Ecclesia the world over are blessed to take part in those Covenants given to Israel...through Israel's Messiah..

    Ephesians 2:11-13

    "Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ."

    As far as the State Of Israel is concerned...I can only speak for myself. For me, the fact that God's people are literally in their homeland speaks volumes and I know that nothing happens without God's sanction;so in that regard I support Her State.

    But I think more than anything rather one chooses to support Israel's State or not,as believers we MUST pray for Israel and we MUST pray for the peace of Jerusalem.

    Psalms 122:6

    as always thanks for sharing Judah, take care.

  2. I had hoped that was Brian's intent. Unfortunately, later he cited an article explaining his beliefs,

    Critics of [our theology] assume a dispensational, Israeleo-centric way of thinking. They assume the temporary, national people of Israel was intended to be a permanent arragment. Such a way of thinking is contrary to the promise in Gen 3:15. The national people [of Israel] was only a means to an end.


    For us [in Reformed Theology], the church has always been the Israel of God and the Israel of God has always been the church. The church was temporarily administered through a typological, national people [the Jews]."

    Suffice to say, my friend does not believe Jews are the people of God any longer.

    Brian, if you're reading, you're welcome to clarify if I've misspoken, and I'll refrain from arguing over any clarified words.

    I'm scheduling a post for Thursday that dissects Reformed Theology and presents Scriptures to support an alternative view, one that views physical Israel as God's chosen family.

  3. I'm sure anyone can take a guess at what I think.


  4. Here's an fascinating article I came across that made my blood boil (just a tiny bit):

    I quote from it:

    "The irony here is so thick you could cut it with a knife! In all these OT texts it is the Gentiles who grovel before Israel (Isaiah 49:23), whereas in Revelation 3:9 it is the Jews who will bow at the feet of this predominantly Gentile Christian church."

  5. We Christians are grafted into Israel not a replacement. Your friend is arguing with the Lord's revelations to the apostle Paul as in Romans. Your friend might like to read what God revealed to Ezekiel about *all* Israel being raised back to life from dry bones. Reborn, renewed, regenerated, not replaced. Christians haven't been gathered to the land of Israel according to the promises in Ezekiel. Your friend is mistaken I think.

  6. K here, we are recent Shabbat attendees. I'm not a blogger but I had to comment. FYI P got a hearty laugh at Godwin's law. Wish I thought it was as funny that this discussion ended there. Danny wrote "those in the Church/Assembly/Ecclesia the world over are blessed to take part in those Covenants given to Israel...through Israel's Messiah.." which is well stated and in my humble opinion, truthful. Yeshua said, Matthew 15:24 "I was sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel". Also, I looked at Matthew 25:32 its talking about Yeshua's judgement against nations, the word nation is there. the righteous are asking about when they saw Yeshua hungry, thirsty, etc. Matthew 25:40 says "And the king shall answer and say unto them Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as you did it unto one these my brethren, even the least, you did it unto me" Since this is a national judgement, who is Yeshua's brethren? I would say fellow Hebrews and the nation of Israel. This is what I was taught as a Christian. Your nation will be judged as to how it treats Israel. And as if I have to say it, Yeshua was a Hebrew who saved individuals and came for the house of Israel.
    Judah, please forgive me for doubting that there was Christian doctrine like this. I'm very sad that my Christian brethren could speak such a thing esp to the point of Godwin's law. I will be happy to eat a full plate of crow for this one. Looking forward to reading Thurs. Keep up the good work JG.
    Hine(y) ma tov u’manayim
    Shevet akh-im gam ya-khad
    Translated, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony." K

  7. Judah, thank you for the clarification. I am sorry Brian believes what he does. I believe he is gravely mistaken. I look forward to your post on Thursday.

    Rabbi Gene,

    The quote you posted from the article is disheartening. I am so sorry.

    K, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and thank you for your kind word. I hope your sabbath observances are blessed.

  8. Much of what you quoted from Facebook is an overreaction that many Christians have when they are told (in this case from the pulpit) they need to support Israel. Too frequently, Christians who support Israel take the dictum "I will bless those who bless you..." as meaning that Believers are not in any way, shape, or form allowed to criticize the Jewish State. That would be akin to cursing.

    I myself support the State of Israel, and I even affirm that a much greater restoration of Israel in on the horizon--but that does not mean that the Israelis have not made serious blunders, or even committed atrocities before. They have. So has the United States, and so has every other great power.

    Many evangelical Christians think that the modern State of Israel is allowed to do things, Biblically justified, that America or other countries would not be allowed to do. I think that this perception needs to change, and Christian teaching on the State of Israel does need to recognize its imperfections. The Holy Land is considered holy because of things that have happened there in the past, not necessarily because of things that are happening there today.

    In all honesty though, this kind of overreaction is no different than those who get tired of hearing future end-time prognostications, and then they become preterist. Or, those who are raised in rigid Young Earth Creationist homes, and then after seeing the pseudo-science of groups like Answers in Genesis, become theistic evolutionists.

  9. From what I understand of it, this is Reformed Covenant theology. It tries hard not to be replacement theology, but the end result is the same: Israel was a temporary existence of Christ's Church, effectively making Israel irrelevant.

  10. This just about sums up that blogger's theological position:

    Theologically, I am unabashedly and thoroughly reformed, continuationist, and amillennial!

    This means, that more than anything else, he does not interpret various prophecies--literally--that regard Israel in the end-times.

  11. "Many evangelical Christians think that the modern State of Israel is allowed to do things, Biblically justified, that America or other countries would not be allowed to do. I think that this perception needs to change, and Christian teaching on the State of Israel does need to recognize its imperfections."

    J.K... the issue is NOT that Israel is a perfect country that can do no wrong or justified in doing anything it pleases. Israelis criticize themselves all the time. Rather, the real issue is that Israel is unfairly singled out by both its "friends" and its enemies who do not apply the same standards to themselves. Double standards are rampant, as is obsessive focusing on Israel's supposed misdeeds (which are MINUSCULE when compared to the atrocities committed by most other nations, friends or foes).

    Once one remembers that the tiny country of Israel is surrounded from within and from without by enemies who have in times (very recent) past have risen to destroy her on numerous occasions, and are more then willing to try at it again (and are actively trying now), everything comes into much better perspective.

    In my mind, there's nothing wrong to have someone (e.g. Zionist Christians) who would love and stand by you unconditionally. Israel has enough critics - we need a few supporters now and then.

  12. Gene,

    I am fully aware that Israelis criticize themselves. I have watched the documentaries where members of the IDF really struggle with what they do to defend the country. Many, though, are uninformed about this.

    The problem with some of today's Christian support of Israel, is that it can fail to take into consideration the legitimate plight of the Palestinians. I by no means support the existence of a Palestinian state, but some Christians and Messianics I have witnessed, believe that pushing them into the desert is the answer to pushing the Jews into the sea.

    I agree that double standards are rampant--and things are likely to become more complicated given our current administration.

    I hope this clarifies things somewhat.

  13. "The problem with some of today's Christian support of Israel, is that it can fail to take into consideration the legitimate plight of the Palestinians."

    What "legitimate plight of the Palestinians"? That's exactly the double standard I am talking about. What other country have in times past or would tolerate bus, restaurant, and disco suicide bombings, shootings, bulldozer attacks, and kidnappings, and unprovoked shelling of civilian territory by those who also inoculate murderous hatred of Jews into generation after generation of their children? No nation would put up with that nonsense, much less guarantee "rights" to or feel sympathy for the perpetrators.

  14. Gene,

    There is no double standard taking place in recognizing that the Palestinians live in terrible third world conditions with little or no infrastructure, live under a decrepit and corrupt regime, and even though they are taught to hate the Jews--many of them are victims of religious and political extremism. They are people that deserve our prayers, so that they can be delivered from these things.

    Too frequently, this is what is overlooked by many Christian Zionists, and the fact that these people need Yeshua. Without Him, they are destined to an eternity separated from God.

    Israel certainly has the right to defend itself, and I firmly believe the State of Israel has a Biblical right to exist. But Believers in Yeshua have the responsibility to pray that a solution other than military conflict can be found to the Palestinian issue.

  15. "But Believers in Yeshua have the responsibility to pray that a solution other than military conflict can be found to the Palestinian issue."

    That may be, and we all hope for peace and not bloodshed, but as I read the prophets about the future of Israel as well as Israel's history in the Bible, it seems that the military option is often seems to be THE unavoidable solution that G-d himself chooses.

  16. In the end the nations who DO NOT go to the third Temple in Israel and Observe YHVH's Feast will get no rain! Even Paul says you are grated into the olive tree of Israel..... There is no "new religion" it's all the same from beginning to end. "I am the Alaph and the Tov" If the "church" doesn't recognize that it is a part of Israel and that promise, then they will surely be lead astray..... and I agree with Aaron! ~ ANTI-SEMITIC GARBAGE!

    Jesse H.

  17. Right on Jesse!

    ZECHARIAH 8:23

    "Thus says the Almighty One of Hosts: 'In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold - they will take hold of a Jewish man by a corner (kanaf in Heb. where the SISITH/TASSLE is) and say, 'Let us go with you ("-khem" is "you" PLURAL in Heb), for we have heard that God is with you ("you" plural, again, in Heb)."

    Clearly this is not of gentiles taking hold of a Jewish man and being taken only with him, but of gentiles grabbing hold of the tassle of a Jew (the tassle which is symbolic of the Torah) and saying "take us with your people!", since "you" here in this verse is PLURAL. "Take us with the Jewish people!". That is the only complete salvation for a gentile, to be taken with God's one and only people, rather than opposing them or persecuting them, or speaking evil of them.

  18. as believers we can never disregard 2 things.

    in essence all believers in christ are jews. it is the jews historical living relationship with god that is also our own. it is our living the relationship with god thru them that unites us. jews and christians are united in this embraced history.

    they are god's chosen people for all eternity. the chosen people of our heavenly father whom we are granted sonship thru christ.

    i dont see how we can deny our spiritual kinship. so yes, as believers, israel is as much our nation as it is their nation.

    in another way we have a spiritual kinship with islamics because we worship the same god, and claim the same spiritual father, abraham.

  19. This type of thinking is so odd to me (replacement of Israel by the Church). To me it makes G-d into a rather terrible entity.

    If there was this guy and he pledged his undying love for lets say Judy. He has promised all kinds of terrific things to Judy and said he would always be there for Judy. Judy had some ups and some downs in loving this guy back, but he said he would forgive Judy for all the times she hurt him.

    One day this guy meets Christie and he falls in love with her. He decides to dump Judy and pledge his love to Christie. Not only that, he claims that Christie is actually in fact Judy and thus all the promises and pledges he made to Judy are still true and that he is true to his word.

    Now I think the average person might say this guy is a jerk. He might claim that Judy served his purpose to show Christie how much he really loves her, but that does not really help his case and make him any better of a person.

    There are two things I take away from this. One is that when a Christian thinks this way, they turn G-d into a sleazy, rotten G-d, one that I would think few of us would want any part of. Two, I would think in my example that Christie's friends would be telling her to be wary as her lover could easily leave her one day for the "true Christie." I am not sure where a Christian who subscribes to these types of theories gets any sense of security. Does the Church have a better, more perfect history of following G-d's commandments than that of Biblical Israel? So if G-d can reject that Israel and assign the title to another, what prevents Him from doing that again if He finds another group of people that touch His fancy. In some ways this is actually like Muslim and Mormon theology, where G-d has rejected the Christian and brought the truth of their Scriptures through Mohammad or Joseph Smith. I see no security in this line of reasoning.

    As for supporting present day Israel I think that is something for believers to do, although I think most would agree that does not mean a blank check to do anything, but to love them as one would love a brother and try to lead to correct when wrong, but willing to forgive and support them as they do their best through trying times, especially when they do have so little support already.

  20. Pardon my asking, but have any of you ever convinced someone who would make Brian's kind of statement that they are wrong? I only say that because I feel like I spend all my energy on Christians instead of the world. I am tired of trying to teach those who are not looking to learn.


  21. Yves LL


    Just discovered your blog, and have a question:

    A Jewish man who was forced to convert to Christianity. After a few generations later, his children who are born again Christians who were not circumcised discovered that they had a direct blood line with the children of Israel? Are they Jewish?

    About an Orthodox Rabbi that discovered that not only he came from converted Eastern Europe non Hebrew/Jewish, but was lied to as far as his genealogy claiming that he was from the tribe of Judah?


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