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Israel and the Church - God's Ultimate Purpose

by Stella Paterson
(7/15/2013)

Before we get into the 'meat' of this very stirring message, we need to clarify what is meant by the word "Church" and the purpose for its use in this article. The Greek word ekklesia was translated "church" by the King James Bible translators and is found in the majority of bible versions. For many, the word itself brings to mind the apostate condition of many who make up "the church" today. But for simplicity, here, the people to whom Church refers, and because of the various quotes from others, we are speaking of those who have come to put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ.

God's ultimate purpose for Israel and the Church is a topic that is seldom, if ever, shared by 'ministers' today. That purpose, conceived in the mind of an awesome God, is almost beyond comprehension to the human mind. Yet God is GOD, and ultimately His plans and purposes for us will reveal both the kindness and severity of His Being; and in the end, all glory will belong to Him alone. If we sincerely count ourselves a part of His body, His glory is what we all should long for.

Throughout this article, an amazing picture will emerge; or as the Apostle Paul called it, "a mystery," that shows God's ultimate purpose for His people. It will be breathtaking, as well as challenging, in that we will stand in awe at the greatness of God and, at the same time, be brought to a place of humble surrender to His will--if we truly desire to be a part of His purpose for the end of the age.

Because this is such an important topic, there are some areas discussed here that need to be enlarged upon for greater understanding. The list of resources at the bottom of the page will sufficiently provide amplification to complete the 'picture.'

God's way or man's way?

In Christian circles there is a great diversity of beliefs that are purported to be "bible based." Man develops these beliefs by taking great liberty in their interpretation of scripture; even going so far as to exclude whole books which will actually prove their beliefs false. There is one belief in particular that fits this description; and that is the one commonly referred to as "Replacement Theology." It is also known as "Supersessionism" because of the belief that the Church 'supersedes' Israel in God's plan. Or, that the Church is Israel because of an idea that the accounts of Israel in the Old Testament were merely a type of the Church.

God's way states otherwise, as the Scriptures clearly show. Not only do the Scriptures show that there is a massive volume of truth that is contrary to the supersessionists' beliefs, but that God has a wonderful plan for those end time believers who will be His true disciples--or 'the Church that will be the real Church' as God intended.

The Lord gives strong warning to those who take the liberty to interpret Scriptures and make them say something that is not intentional and that the context does not support. These two very sobering passages make that message abundantly clear:

"Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar." ~ Proverbs 30:5-6

"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." ~ Revelation 22:18-19.

Israel in the New Testament

There are far more passages in the New Testament than we realize that are addressed to the Jews. I for one have been guilty of not seeing them for what they really say. Even then, the admonitions contained therein are profitable for growth in our relationship of trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the reason the Scriptures have been preserved for these thousands of years--that all would come to know Christ and Him crucified.

When we read those passages that are specifically addressed to the Jewish people, there is a wonderful theme throughout that can so easily be missed, and that is why there is so much error today regarding the on-going plan of God for Israel, as well as the believing Gentile Church. Both the Church and Jacob must come into the purposes of God before His end time plan can be fulfilled. It is significant that we use the name "Jacob" here.

Jacob or Israel

"And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." ~ Genesis 32:28.

In Israel and the Time of Jacob's Trouble, Art Katz said:

"The name 'Israel' was given to Jacob after a climactic confrontation with the Son of God, the pre-incarnate revelation of Christ, when he saw Him face to face, wrestled with Him, was touched, made lame and received the blessing. Israel means, 'one who has prevailed both with God and with man.' The name was given after a final, ultimate kind of confrontation between a man who lived in his 'Jacob' energy and strength of mind and determination, so much so, that he virtually stole the inheritance from a willing Esau, whom God hated because he so readily gave it up. Even though Jacob had a well-meaning intention, he was not much more than a 'conniver,' which is what the word 'Jacob' means."

With the exception of a remnant of true believers in their Messiah, present-day 'Israel' is not the Israel of God. 'Israel' should more correctly be called "Jacob." As a nation, they are so self-sufficient, and especially proud of their military strength and their ability to hold on to their land at all cost. But a day is coming when they will learn that only God is their strength and their salvation. And what a day that will be! Not only for Israel, but for the Church that will have become the proven vessel which God will use in His final restoration of His beloved Israel. The Old Testament prophecies show unmistakably that it is God alone who will be the one to restore them to that land according to His promise.

Keep reading; we are just getting started on this exciting journey to truth, so there is more on this later.

Has God done away with Old Testament Israel?

In the Apostle Paul's words, "I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I too am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin." ~ Romans 11:1. He then goes on to quote a conversation between Elijah and the Lord God and the fact that He had "reserved" for Himself "seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." And Paul's next words in verse 5 were: "Even so then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace." Then, in the 7th verse he shows how within Israel there is a remnant of believing Israel. "What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded."

In his book, Has the Church Replaced Israel?, Michael J. Vlach said this:

"I assert that the primary meaning of any Bible passage, including those in the OT, is found in the original passage itself. As part of God's holy, inspired Word, the OT and its books are still relevant revelations and must be taken seriously and studied according to their historical-grammatical-literary contexts. This principle affirms the ongoing integrity of OT passages. Thus, the primary meanings in all passages in the Bible, both OT and NT, are found in the actual passages themselves. Scripture shines light on other Scripture, but God intends for each portion of Scripture to contribute to His revelation." [1]

The following are only a very few verses out of the many passages in the Old Testament which tell of God's promises to Israel:

- "For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. " ~ 1 Samuel 12:22

- "For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance." ~ Psalm 94:14.

- "O ye seed of Abraham his servant, ye children of Jacob his chosen. He is the LORD our God: his judgments are in all the earth. He hath remembered his covenant for ever, the word which he commanded to a thousand generations." ~ Psalm 105:6-8.

If there were ever any doubt that God has never done away with Israel, this passage should help shed more light on the reliability of His covenant with them.

"Thus says the LORD, Who gives the sun for light by day, And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The LORD of hosts is His name: 'If this fixed order departs From before Me,' declares the LORD, 'Then the offspring of Israel also shall cease From being a nation before Me forever.' Thus says the LORD, 'If the heavens above can be measured, And the foundations of the earth searched out below, Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel For all that they have done,' declares the LORD." ~ Jeremiah 31:35-37 NAS.

We need to get back to reading the Old Testament books of the prophets if we are going to know what is yet to come--for both Israel and the Church. There are numerous New Testament Scriptures that affirm the Old Testament prophecies regarding Israel. So, to overlook those passages, or to twist them to suit our purposes, will never negate God's promises. As Vlach said, "If an OT promise is made unconditionally with a specific group such as Israel, then that promise must be fulfilled with that group."

Has the 'Church' replaced Israel?

In the early ekklesia of Christians, the 'Church', the first believers were Jews; there was no thought of their having replaced the natural Jews--they were simply Jewish believers. But as time progressed, there were more and more Gentiles coming to Christ, and some of those had the idea that they were the 'new Israel' and God had done away with ethnic Israel. The early church fathers were divided, with some knowing that Israel was still God's chosen people and that God's promises to them had not changed, while others were very harsh toward the Jewish believers. Anti-Semitism was already present in the earliest centuries. So, obviously, apostasy was present as well, for to have an anti-Jewish sentiment is surely just as much a defection from truth as any other apostate belief. Even though there is coming a day when Israel will experience God's judgment in great measure, nothing can separate them from His love. His love is shown in His judgment which is executed because of His mercy. And He will have a believing remnant when the destruction is past.

It does not matter how many times Christians declare that the promises given to Israel now belong to the 'Church', it can never change God's plan. He will still fulfill His promises to the ones to whom He made them. Those who have attempted to hijack Israel's inheritance will stand in amazement when they see the works of God on behalf of those to whom He spoke through His prophets. It is far too easy to take a few verses out of context and use them to make a point in favour of our own twisted beliefs. As Peter said, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." ~ 2 Peter 1:20. Replacement theology, or 'supersessionism', is one of the most antichrist doctrines among believers today. Israel has always been central to God's plan. That is why He temporarily blinded their 'eyes' and closed their 'ears' until the time when "the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." ~ Romans 11:25.

The fullness of the Gentiles must come in for Israel to be saved. We must press in, dying to everything of self and self-importance because of our perceived 'spiritual superiority'-- if we are going to provoke Israel to jealousy, to 'excite them to rivalry' and a desire for that One who loves them through us. If it weren't for their being blinded, we Gentiles would never have heard the Gospel and come to know Christ.

C.E.B. Cranfield said:

"It is only where the Church persists in refusing to learn this message, where it secretly--perhaps quite unconsciously--believes that its own existence is based on human achievement, and so fails to understand God's mercy to itself, that it is unable to believe in God's mercy for still unbelieving Israel, and so entertains the ugly and unscriptural notion that God has cast off His people Israel and simply replaced it by the Christian Church. These three chapters [Romans 9-11] emphatically forbid us to speak of the Church as having once and for all taken the place of the Jewish people." [2]

If the supersessionists believe God would cast off Israel, thereby making Him an unfaithful 'Husband', how do they know they can trust Him to be faithful in His perceived promises to them? Not only that, but would they in effect be calling God a 'deceiver' because He made promises through the prophets in the Old Testament regarding a restoration of Israel, when He actually intended those promises as having only a spiritual meaning for thousands of years later? God is not God unless He fulfills all His promises, and He will fulfill them because He is faithful; not because any one deserves, because no one deserves. That is grace! He is merciful!

The whole reason for the 'Church's' being is found in this verse: "I say then, have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! [KJV: 'God forbid!'] But by their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy [Greek: 'excite to rivalry']." ~ Romans 11:11 EMTV. Paul was referring to these words in Deuteronomy: "They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation." ~ Deuteronomy 32:21.

Who are the Jews?

Do we think that God would use Jews, with Jesus being one of them, to birth Christianity and be the very first Church leaders and writers of the New Testament, only to cause them to disappear into oblivion and make the Gentile believers the new Jews? This strange type of thinking comes from the misinterpretation of Paul's words in this passage: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God." ~ Romans 2:28-29.

Paul is not saying that Gentiles are the new Jews; he is saying that the true Jews are those Jews who have come to put their trust in Jesus Christ for righteousness, having forsaken the idea that circumcision in the flesh can make them righteous. If not for a chapter break, the next two verses are still included in the thought Paul is expressing: "What then is the superiority of the Jew, or what is the profit of circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." ~ Romans 3:1-2 EMTV. We must keep in mind that 'circumcision' was the sign of the covenant God had made with Abraham, and ultimately his grandson Israel.

As Michael J. Vlach said, "The application of the titles 'sons of Abraham' or 'seed of Abraham' to believing Gentiles does not mean that believing Gentiles are spiritual Jews or part of Israel."

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul shows the priority given to the Jews when he said, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." ~ Romans 1:16.

"Behold, I will give those of the synagogue of Satan, those who say they are Jews and are not, but they are lying--behold, I will compel them to come and worship before your feet, and they shall know that I have loved you." Revelation 3:9 EMTV.

The Israel of God

There are three passages in Paul's writings that some in the Church have taken to mean they are now the "Israel of God." But that is not what Paul was saying.

Firstly, Paul wrote to those at Rome, "Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called." ~ Romans 9:6-7. He is saying that not all those who were born as the natural children of Jacob are Israel according to promise: just as all those born of Abraham are not Israel, but only those who came from Isaac. We know who came from Ishmael, and they are the arch enemies of Israel.

Secondly, we have this passage in Paul's letter to the Galatians: "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." ~ Galatians 3:26-29.

In pointing out what Paul means by neither Jew nor Greek, S. L. Johnson Jr., in his book, "Paul and the 'The Israel of God': An Exegetical and Eschatological Case-Study," [3a] explains:

"Paul also says there is neither male nor female, nor slave nor free man in Christ. Would he then deny sexual differences within the church? Or the social differences in Paul's day? Is it not plain that Paul is not speaking of national or ethnic difference in Christ, but of spiritual status? In that sense there is no difference in Christ."

Thirdly, also in Galatians, Paul said, "And for me, let it not be--to glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which to me the world hath been crucified, and I to the world; for in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation; and as many as by this rule do walk--peace upon them, and kindness, and on the Israel of God!" ~ Galatians 6:14-16 YLT. In verse 16, Paul is referring specifically to Jewish Christians, as S. L. Johnson Jr., so aptly describes for us.

"What more fitting thing could Paul write, it is said, in a work so strongly attacking Jewish professing believers, the Judaizers, than to make it most plain that he was not attacking the true believing Jews. Judaizers are anathematized, but the remnant according to the election of grace are 'the Israel of God.'" [3b]

One new man

In Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus, he shares a most amazing revelation where he tells how the "uncircumcision," the 'unclean', according to the Jews, are brought 'nigh' and made fellow-heirs of salvation in and through Christ. The Gentiles who were the "foolish nation" that God promised to use to make Israel jealous are being described by Paul as being "apart from Christ, having been alienated from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of the promise, having no hope, and without God, in the world; . . ." (Ephesians 2:12 YLT). Through the cross, the Law has been 'done away' so that now both Jew and Gentile can come to Christ Jesus by putting their trust in Him for salvation and being in Him "one new man," "because through him we have the access--we both--in one Spirit unto the Father." (vs. 18). They are still both Jew and Gentile but become "one" in the Spirit, just as all true believers become one, as Jesus so fervently prayed in John 17.

Paul's letter continues:

"Then, therefore, ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being chief corner-stone, in whom all the building fitly framed together doth increase to an holy sanctuary in the Lord, in whom also ye are builded together, for a habitation of God in the Spirit." ~ Ephesians 2:19-22 YLT.

In the next chapter, we see more of Paul's message to the Gentiles at Ephesus, telling them how the Lord has brought them near to the commonwealth of Israel to be "co-participants," as the Greek definition shows, in the salvation that was always intended for "the Jew first." This verse shows once again the 'co-participation' of both Jew and Gentile: "[T]hat the Gentiles should be joint-heirs, and of the same body, and joint-partakers in His promise in Christ by the gospel, . . ." ~ Ephesians 3:6 YLT.

The Church is not now Israel; they are co-participants with Israel. And now we can see how Paul was saying much the same thing to those at Rome. "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes on Him shall not be put to shame.' For there is no difference between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord of all is rich to all who call upon Him. For 'whosoever shall call upon [Greek: 'invoke (in prayer)'] the name of the LORD shall be saved.'" ~ Romans 10:11-13 EMTV.

Grafted in

When Paul wrote the book of Romans, he was addressing Gentile Christians. This means that the Church was already in existence, and Israel was in a state of unbelief. The eleventh chapter alone is sufficient to completely disprove the false concept that Israel was merely a 'type' and that the Church is now Israel. We must never entertain the notion that the accounts in the bible are solely about us; but that our salvation is a part of God's plan to bring Israel back to Himself, even though only a remnant.

Let's take a look at Paul's words to the Church as it relates to Israel.

"For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am indeed an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry, if somehow I may provoke to jealousy my fellow Jews, and I may save some of them. For if their casting away means reconciliation for the world, what will their acceptance be, if not life from the dead? For if the firstfruit is holy, so also the lump; and if the root is holy, so also the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and became a partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, 'Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.' Well said. By unbelief they were broken off, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps He may not spare you either. Behold then the kindness and severity of God: upon those that fell, severity; but upon you, kindness, if you continue in His kindness. Otherwise you also shall be cut off." ~ Romans 11:13-21 EMTV.

These next verses show how Israel's 'casting away' was only temporary:

"And they also, if they do not remain in unbelief, shall be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these, the natural ones, be grafted into their own olive tree? For I do not desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in." ~ Romans 11:23-25 EMTV.

"We cannot tell how near the brim we are, or when the fullness of the Gentiles will fill the predestined measure. It may be much nearer than we suppose, and then the door will be closed, and the Hebrew nation will be grafted in to serve the divine program in the last stages of human history. They are still beloved for their fathers' sake, and the day is coming when all their sins will be forgiven and taken away." ~ F. B. Meyer (1847 - 1929). If Meyer saw that day as being not far away in his time, how much closer are we today?

All things spiritual

Interpretation (hermeneutics) does not supersede God's original inspired word. The belief called 'supersessionism' does not stop at simply saying the believers are now Israel, and that ethnic Israel no longer is a part of God's plan going forward. Because one sees the Church as Israel, it almost goes without saying that more and more Scriptures will be interpreted as being solely spiritual; that there will be no literal fulfilment of any prophecies. Supersessionists can get so carried away with their spiritual interpretations that they end up in so much error that their beliefs will become unrecognizable in relation to true Christian beliefs and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

A prime example of spiritualizing New Testament books is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. So much can be 'read into' it if we assume it is to be understood as solely spiritual. A good method to use in reading the book of Revelation would be to see it as being written with regard to the Jewish people, which would make a majority of that whole book a lot better understood. To assume it is written only to the Church, and is a spiritual message that tells us that all prophecies in it have already been fulfilled, will cause us to be unprepared for what is yet to come.

Types and shadows

Israel in the Old Testament could never be a type of the 'church' in the New Testament, because the nation of Israel and God's hand of protection are very real to this day. Even in their rebellion, He has always watched over them and done miraculous things to save them from their enemies. God would not have allowed ethnic Israel to regain their land in the Middle East in 1948 if the 'church' was Israel and there was no longer a nation by that name. And He would not have caused the war of 1967 to be over in only 6 days.

In the New Testament, the context always shows when there is a type and it is clear that its Old Testament representation no longer exists, or is no longer valid. This is seen in Hebrews, chapter four, in reference to the Sabbath where we learn that Jesus is the Sabbath rest; there is no longer to be a day called "the Sabbath." The book of Hebrews has many passages that are shown as 'types', but this does not mean that the whole of the Old Testament consists of only 'types' and 'shadows'. For example, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews used types to explain to the Hebrew people how the "old" temple has been replaced by the "new" temple. And we see that Melchizedek represented the priesthood of Jesus.

In the 8th chapter of the letter to the Hebrews, the writer is referring to Jeremiah 31:31-34 when he speaks of how the Lord would make "a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." They had not kept the old covenant He made with them when He brought them out of Egypt, and He "regarded them not," as we see in verse nine. In the new covenant, He will put His "laws into their mind and write them upon their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: . . . For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away." ~ Hebrews 8:10, 12-13. Of course, the prophet whom the writer was quoting was speaking of Israel's future salvation.

The old covenant that was "old and ready to vanish away" was not the covenant God made with Abraham; it was only the covenant He made when He brought them out of Egypt, which is known as the "Law of Moses." And it was definitely not the whole volume we know as the "Old Testament." The other books of historical accounts, the Psalms, the Proverbs, and especially the books of the prophets are every bit as important to our understanding today. In the books of the prophets we learn of what is ahead for rebellious and self-reliant Israel.

Jacob's trouble

"If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips." ~ Psalm 89:31-34.

As was said earlier, there is a day coming when God will deal with Jacob/Israel over their unfaithfulness. And, as the above passage shows, He has always been faithful to them and His promises will not fail. That being said, the days ahead for every Jew will be difficult, no matter where they are in the world. As the end times progress, there will be more and more hatred toward, and persecution of, Jews worldwide. The ultimate restoration of God's chosen people leads up to the government of Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords. But first, they must suffer that time called "Jacob's trouble," as Jesus indicated in His words to them. "All these [calamities] are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake." ~ Matthew 24:8-9. What is yet to come will make the Nazi holocaust seem like a 'walk in the park.' Jesus put it this way: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." ~ Matthew 24:21-22.

"And there was given to me a reed like to a rod, and the messenger stood, saying, `Rise, and measure the sanctuary of God, and the altar, and those worshipping in it; and the court that is without the sanctuary leave out, and thou mayest not measure it, because it was given to the nations, and the holy city they shall tread down forty-two months;" ~ Revelation 11:1 YLT.

Just prior to Jesus' words about the 'great tribulation,' He told of the abomination that desolates. "'So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.'" ~ Matthew 24:15-16 ESV. There is one that will be so utterly abominable that will stand in a place "where he ought not to be" (Mark 13:14), and then the desolation, or 'great tribulation,' will begin. Michael J. Vlach describes it this way:

"Multiple NT passages refer to a future literal temple in Jerusalem. In Matt 24: 15, Jesus relies on Dan 9: 24- 27 in stating that when the abomination of desolation takes place, there will be a 'standing in the holy place' that will lead to those in Judea fleeing to the mountains. This prophetic event will take place in the temple in Jerusalem. Also, 2 Thess 2:3- 4 indicates that the 'man of lawlessness' will take 'his seat in the temple of God.' This temple that belongs to God will be located in Jerusalem. Plus, Rev 11:1- 2 refers to a future temple as well. Unless one takes a strong preterist approach in which these events were fulfilled in AD 70, which is hard to sustain, these events concerning the temple are still future. Thus, when it comes to the concept of temple there is an 'all of the above' approach. The temple in the NT can refer to Jesus, to the church, the body of the believer, and it can refer to a future temple in Jerusalem. Context determines which sense is in mind by the biblical author." (Emphases mine).

"Alas! That day is so great there is none like it; it is a time of distress for Jacob; yet he shall be saved out of it." ~ Jeremiah 30:7 ESV. Beginning with Chapters 30 and 31, Jeremiah tells of Jacob's trouble and final restoration.

Israel's salvation and restoration

In Jesus' own words, He showed the priority given to the salvation of Israel. "These twelve Jesus sent forth, commanding them, saying, 'Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.'" ~ Matthew 10:5-6 EMTV. And again, "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ~ Matthew 15:24 EMTV.

Numerous passages in both Old and New Testaments tell of God's promised salvation and restoration of Israel. [4] But this one in the book of Romans where Paul also quotes an OT passage is very explicit. "For I do not desire you to be ignorant, brothers, of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel shall be saved, as it is written: 'The Deliverer shall come out of Zion, and He shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.'" ~ Romans 11:25-27 EMTV.

Jonathan Edwards (1703 -1758), famous for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God!" had this to say: "Nothing is more certainly foretold than this national conversion of the Jews in Romans 11." [5]

God's mercy is seen in the Muslim world where many are coming to Christ when He has appeared to them, causing them to turn from Islam in wholehearted devotion to Jesus. Ishmael and Esau were also the offspring of Abraham and Isaac, respectively, and God still cares for them, even though they were not chosen to be part of His plan to bring salvation to man through the Seed, Christ. If God would show mercy to the enemies of Israel, why would He not show mercy to His own chosen people and bring them back to Himself, as He promised?

"Behold, I will gather them out of all the countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place, and I will cause them to dwell safely: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me for ever; for the good of them, and of their children after them: and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Yea, I will rejoice over them to do them good, and I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For thus saith the LORD: Like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them." ~ Jeremiah 32:37-42 RV.

God's 'agent' for salvation

"As regards to the gospel, they are enemies for your sake; but as regards to election, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you once were disobedient to God, but now you were shown mercy through their disobedience, even so these now were disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also might be shown mercy. For God has shut up all to disobedience, that He might show mercy to all." ~ Romans 11:28-32 EMTV.

Art Katz, a self-professed "atheistic Jew," came to receive his Messiah when he saw the Life of Christ in a young, true believer. He described it this way: "I saw the glory of the God of Israel as the light that lightens the Gentiles. I saw it revealed in a Gentile face. There's nothing more powerful for a Jew. Do you know the historic way that they have looked upon Gentiles? Do you know how they spit out the word 'Goyim', the Hebrew word for 'nations' or 'Gentiles'?"

The animosity with which unbelieving Jews view Gentiles--including Christian Gentiles--makes it even more amazing that God would use such to be the Jews' 'agent for salvation.' That is why God planned it that way; it can only be in and through Him that the believing Gentiles will show love for the Jewish people, and be so dead to self that the Jews will see only Jesus. These Gentile believers that God will use will be so sold out to Him that to see His purposes fulfilled are what they live for. To quote Art Katz again, ". . . we will never be God's saving agency to Israel in the last days except on the basis of being in Christ. Can you see the genius of God? He is not only concerned for Israel's restoration; He is concerned for our transfiguration! . . . That we will be islands of sanity and people of such faith that we are not at all moved or depressed or defeated by external circumstances; that we'll be in a place in Christ that is triumphant. . . . And when Jews see this, they'll be astonished." [6]

"When Israel is saved as a nation, Gentile blessings will even be greater. So then I conclude that there is a partial fulfillment of Gentiles becoming God's people as described in Acts 15:17, but there is also a sense in which Gentile blessing will be even greater when Israel is saved (see Rom 11:26). When the 'tabernacle of David' is restored as Acts 15:16 states, the fulfillment of the Amos prophecy, including blessings for Gentiles, will take place." ~ Michael J. Vlach [7]

Israel's restoration and repentance

The day is soon coming when God will restore Israel as He promised so many thousands of years ago. But before that restoration is complete, Israel must experience the "Time of Jacob's Trouble." There are Jews all over the world, in almost every nation, and God will deal with them wherever they are. His plan is to raise up a remnant out of all the sifting and destruction, so that it will be His work, and only His. It's about God's glory alone--not only about an ethnic people being restored to their land, but restored to acknowledging that the Lord God truly is GOD.

Peter, the Apostle to the Jews, was referring to the final restoration of Israel when he spoke this to the 'men of Israel.' "Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago." ~ Acts 3:19-21 ESV. Thayer's Greek Dictionary defines "restoring" as "restoration: a) of a true theocracy, b) of the perfect state before the fall." The 21st verse is the only place in the NT where that Greek word is used, so that definition is precise.

Israel's repentance will come when God "takes away" their sins, as He promised. In Ezekiel 36:22-36, the Lord God told them He would not be doing it for their sakes, but for His sake; He would vindicate the holiness of His name before the nations, before whom Israel had profaned His name. "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you. . ." (vs. 25-27a). It is then that they will remember their evil ways, and will "loathe themselves" for their "iniquities and abominations." In verse 32, we see where He said, "Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel."

Zechariah describes Israel's deep repentance as "wailing," according to the Hebrew word translated as "mourn." "And on that day I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. 'And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.'" ~ Zechariah 12:9-10 ESV. As the twelfth chapter shows, every family in the house of Israel will repent with wailing when they see their Messiah Jesus.

The coming King

The angel that appeared to Mary, telling her of the baby she would be bringing into the world, said this about Jesus: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." ~ Luke 1:32-33. Isaiah also prophesied, "Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." ~ Isaiah 9:7.

The apostles knew from the prophets that Israel would be restored and that Christ would sit on the throne of David to rule for ever. "They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? ~ Acts 1:6 RV. So just before Jesus was translated, He told them it was not for them to know such things, but that it was up to the Father in His own established time. And then He told them they must wait in Jerusalem until He would shortly send His Holy Spirit to baptize them, preparing them to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (vs. 8).

The world rulers, the kings, presidents and 'princes' love their authority, and are against any possibility of Jesus Christ sitting on the throne of David and ruling over the world. They will not give up without a fight. "And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the Beast, and out of the mouth of the False Prophet. For they are spirits of demons performing signs, which go forth to the kings of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty." ~ Revelation 16:13-14 EMTV. We know that it will be a very short battle, and one in which Jesus will be Victor, for He is coming as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Following the battle, vultures will come to feast on the flesh of all those slain at His coming. (Ezekiel 39:17-22).

In the end, God's purpose for Israel and the Church will have been fulfilled and, as Art Katz said, "And this, the concluding historical act of God, by which human history itself ends and the Millennial age commences! Everything hinges on the whole issue of this nation's restoration. And the remarkable thing is that the Church, God's agent towards them, is essentially a Gentile Church."

"And the LORD will be king over all the earth. On that day the LORD will be one and his name one." ~ Zechariah 14:9 ESV.

Very vital resources:

- About Art Katz http://artkatzministries.org/about-art-katz/

- Israel and the Time of Jacob's Trouble by Art Katz https://www.ekklesia4him.net/PDF/IsraelAndTheTimeOfJacobsTrouble.pdf

- 'Israel and the Church' articles by Art Katz http://artkatzministries.org/category/articles/israel-and-the-church-articles/

- End Time Overview - audio by Art Katz https://www.ekklesia4him.net/media/audio/Endtime_Overview_Katz.mp3

- Mystery of the Gentile Church - audio by Art Katz https://www.ekklesia4him.net/media/audio/Mystery_of_the_Gentile_Church_Katz.mp3

- Israel, the Death of a Nation - audio by Art Katz https://www.ekklesia4him.net/media/audio/Israel_the_Death_of_a_Nation_Katz.mp3

- Exploring Israel's Deliverance Through Zion by Art Katz http://artkatzministries.org/articles/exploring-israels-deliverance-through-zion/

References:

1. Vlach, Michael J. Has the Church Replaced Israel? B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
2. C.E.B. Cranfield, (b. 1915) A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, in The International Critical Commentary, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: T & T Clark Limited, 1979).
3a, b. http://www.tms.edu/tmsj/tmsj20c.pdf
4. The following are multiple explicit passages that teach and reaffirm a future salvation and restoration of the nation Israel: Deuteronomy 30; Isaiah 2; Ezekiel 36-37; Zephaniah 3; Zechariah 14; Matthew 19:28; Matthew 23:39; Acts 1:6; Romans 11.
5. Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 1, Banner of Truth Trust, reprint, 1976
6. Israel's Restoration; The eternal wisdom of God, demonstrated through the Church, as the necessary prelude to the Messiah's coming. https://www.ekklesia4him.net/israels_restoration.html
7. Vlach, Michael J. Has the Church Replaced Israel? B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.

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