Are Israel and the Church distinct in Bible prophecy?
On our television program Christ in Prophecy, we asked this question of Dr. Ron Rhodes, the founder and director of a ministry called Reasoning from the Scriptures, located in Frisco, Texas. His ministry specializes in defending Christianity against Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, the cults, world religions, and about any group that teaches false doctrine. He is a seminary professor and an excellent writer who has written more than 70 books! His latest one is titled, The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.
Ron Rhodes on the Church Replacing Israel
Understanding whether the Church has replaced Israel or not is very important to the interpretation of Bible prophecy. It is important because Bible prophecy is intimately related to the Biblical covenants, such as the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12 and the Davidic Covenant in 2 Samuel 7. These are unconditional covenants.
What I mean by Non-Conditional Covenant is that there is nothing that Israel has to do in order for God to fulfill His covenant promises. If it was a conditional covenant then Israel would be responsible to do this in order for God to do that. But, that is not what those covenants are. Instead, those covenants are unconditional covenants where God promises to do certain things for Israel, and Israel doesn’t have to do anything in return. They are unconditional.
Now, here’s the question: “Is God telling the truth? Is God a promise keeper?” If you answer yes to those questions, you have no choice but to accept the reality that God has made unconditional promises to Israel, and they will be fulfilled.
Here is something really important. There are a lot of people that argue that the Church fulfilled the promises that were made to Israel. They often go to the New Testament to prove their claim.
Okay, I am game to go into the New Testament. Let’s look at the book of Acts. Even in the book of Acts you’ve got the Church that is mentioned 19 times and Israel that is mentioned 20 times. Israel and the Church are still distinct in the book of Acts.
Then there’s Romans 9-11, where three consecutive chapters talks about this distinction. The Apostle Paul talks about how there is still a future for Israel.
There are other verses. First Corinthians 10:32 has Paul talking about not causing a stumbling block for Jews or for Gentiles or for the Church.
The point that I’m making to you is that even in New Testament times, the Church and Israel are distinct. It is my personal belief that God’s plan for the Jewish people, those covenants where God made those promises, will ultimately be fulfilled in the future Millennial Kingdom. That is when the land promises of the Abrahamic Covenant will be fulfilled. That is when the throne promises in regard to Christ reigning on the throne of David will be fulfilled as well.
The vast majority of Catholics and Protestants believe in Replacement Theology. They argue that the Jews were not faithful, and so therefore God has washed His hands of them and has no purpose left for them. The Church then has inherited all of their blessings. There are a couple of things I could say about that. First of all, did you know that many of the promises made in the covenants continue to be repeated throughout the entire Old Testament? If Israel was unfaithful in that first couple of years after the covenant was made and therefore Israel was no longer recipients of those promises, how come those same promises continue to get repeated over and over again throughout Old Testament history?
The second point I want to make to you is that I consider Replacement Theology not just doctrinally aberrant, but dangerous. It’s dangerous because it affects the way that people view Israel today. It’s the foundation stone of Antisemitism.
One of the concerns that I have is the Church moving away from supporting Israel. How does that relate to the Abrahamic Covenant? Doesn’t the Abrahamic Covenant tell us that if we bless Israel that God will bless us? What if we turn away from Israel? Will God then turn away from us?