For many centuries it has been accepted thinking that the Christian Church is now the Israel of God and that the Jewish people have forfeited that distinction. In many seminaries today, this teaching is current, and has been prominently espoused as obvious doctrine for well over 500 years. It is a faulty understanding.
It is perhaps somewhat understandable how this became accepted as obvious truth. After all, how could the Scriptures be literally understood that Israel would once again become a nation and Jewish people regathered from all over the earth. Centuries ago this could be argued, but today Isaiah's question can be answered.
"Shall the earth be made to bring such a thing in one day or shall a nation be born at once....?" Isaiah 66:8
The answer is yes, but who could have foreseen the United Nations hundreds of years ago. Beyond such a surprise development, there were other historical reasons for Christianity to conveniently wisk aside the existence of the Jewish people as remaining in the economy of God.
Of course, in its earliest years, to be a follower of Yeshua (Jesus), was merely being a Messianic devotee of a sect of Judaism. It wasn't until the Bar-Cochba Revolt between 132 and 135 C.E. that a separation between Jews and Christians took place. Rabbi Akiba, who was of great stature, declared the military leader, Bar-Cochba, to be the Messiah. It was at this juncture that followers of the Carpenter from Galilee were to be excluded from the Jewish community as they rejected this idea. By 135 C.E. the Jerusalem congregation had become a Gentile movement.
Later in 196 C.E. a council was held in Caesarea, but no Jewish representatives attended. Here Sunday worship was instituted and Easter substituted for the celebration of Passover.
In 325 C.E.,the Council of Nicea re-emphasized the importance of keeping Easter on Sunday. None of the bishops involved in the decision were Jewish. Several years later, in the
Council of Antioch, they went were even further. It was determined that anyone celebrating the 14th of Nisan, as the Passover was to be excommunicated.
From that time on, the Christian establishment, as well as the Jewish community sought to exclude the other. Ignorance and lack of ability to read by the masses extended further such forms of anti Jewish sentiment. In time, this grew to an understanding that Jews were the enemy of Christianity and therefore the enemy of God.
So, within a period of 200 years,the separation was complete, culturally, with each group seeing the other as not legitimate spiritually. In retrospect, it was unfortunate that early Christianity lost its Jewish moorings,when they were so apparent in the canonization of the Scriptures.
For example,in the Book of Acts, chapter 21:29 and 22:3, the Apostle Paul says, "I am a Jew". Similarly in Romans 11:1,"Iam of Israel;and in ICorinthians 11:22, "Iam a Hebrew." Notice Paul didn't describe himself as a former Jew, previously of Israel,or a discontinued Hebrew. Rather, he says he would be a "Jew to the Jews",(I Corinthians 9:20 & 10:31-33) emphasizing his heritage and not running from it. He also recommended that Timothy, whom he mentored, become circumcised to emphasize his half Jewish lineage in Acts 16:3.
Apparently, the preservation of the Jewishness of the faith was important to Paul. In Acts 13:5, 14:1and 18:19,he visits synagogues. When he would come to a city he would first go to the Jewish house of worship. In Acts 13:14,it says he did so on the Jewish Sabbath day, Saturday.
It was Paul's usual practice to bring the Good News of Messiah to the Jewish community first in Romans 1:16 as a pattern to be followed. In the overall,Paul says that Gentiles, who become believers in Yeshua, as Messiah, are the wild olive branches,who have been grafted into the Jewish Olive Tree (Romans 1:23,24).
Replacement theology has always had it inside out. It asserts that Jews who come to believe in the New Covenant should renounce their Jewish heritage and be grafted into the Christian Olive Tree. How obviously, this directly contradicts the Pauline doctrine.
Some may draw a distinction between the Jewish people and the modern State of Israel. This is not valid. Jews are Israel in Diaspora . Jews are Israelites in exile, as the Bible would express it. The term Jew obviously comes from a tribe located in Judea in Israel. In that location, there were also remnants of the other tribes of Israel.
Currently, the doctrine of "Replacement Theology" has been commonly espoused by old line Christian denominations, which have taken a liberal bent in the interpretation of the Scriptures. Significant inroads against this understanding have been made in many sectors of
Evangelical Christianity, especially in non-denominational churches.
Unfortunately, an understanding that the Jewish drama of the Bible is only figurative and an analogy for Christian believers tends to take prophecy in an errant direction. Such a tendency is to universalize the predicted events to be world wide predicted events, rather than
For oh so very long,Jewish adherents have maintained that the Scriptures refer to a literal, physical,material people. Gentile Christians have insisted that they have taken over the blessings, as being chosen by God. This tug of war in understanding has now been solved.
The nation of Israel exists and will receive every prophetic promise of God. On a spiritual level, those who believe in the effectiveness of the blood of atonement, shed by Yeshua the Messiah, will inherit every spiritual blessing. Both statements are true. Blessings occur and benefit on two different levels at the same time i.e.,the physical and the spiritual. The one does not negate the other.
Romans 11:25 states that "blindness in part has happened to Israel." In fact, that partial blindness is withering,as increasing numbers of Jewish people are accepting the Jewish Messiah.
It might also be said that "Replacement Theology' has been a partial blindness by sincere Gentile Bible believers. Happily, scales are coming off of both Jews and Gentiles in our age.
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