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Did Jesus Give Away the Land of Israel to Christians (Matthew 5:5) Part 3

Introduction

I could not contain my excitement when I entered Bible College in Dallas, Texas in 1971. I looked forward to learning New Testament Greek, studying the Jewish Scriptures and the New Testament, and researching multiple schools of theology. Attending Bible College was a dream come true. And it was, for the most part.

I devoured every class offered in Bible and theology. I signed up for Leviticus and Hebrews to better understand the connection between the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Covenant.

Hermeneutics or Biblical Interpretation was one of many required courses. My professor was a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary (DTS). Yet, he took pride he had rejected the dispensational theology he learned at DTS. In other words, he became a replacement theologian. He did not affirm God has a plan for the nation of Israel other than the need for individual Jewish people to accept Yeshua.

As the professor unraveled his theology in class one afternoon, he proudly announced he is a spiritual Jew. In fact, in an arrogant tone, he declared he was a “true Jew.” I almost fell out of my chair. I did not believe my ears.

According to the teacher, God wiped His hands of the nation of Israel. Presently, the Lord formed a “new nation of Israel” made up of Gentiles removed from Jewish tradition and culture.

According to my professor, God has no interest in the physical land of Israel or in preserving the Jewish nation as He promised to Abraham. All the references to the land and the Jewish nation in Scripture are realized in the Church. I was nauseous. I wanted to bolt from the classroom.

I ended up in my car after class, trembling and shaking. Questions bombarded my brain. Was God lying to Abraham about the Jewish nation to issue from his loins? Can God be trusted not to give mixed messages in His promises? Do my Gentile brothers in the Lord truly know what is contained in the Jewish Scriptures? What does replacement theology do with the many prophecies that guarantee the nation of Israel possession of the land forever? Was I in the wrong faith? How could I look at these Texas Christians and think of them as Jewish?

Why do I share this story? Truly, my encounter with this professor who espoused Replacement theology set me on a lifetime journey of disproving this teaching that is harmful to a proper understanding of God’s commitment to Israel. Hence, I have undertaken this series of articles on the use of Matthew 5:5 or the third beatitude by replacement theology advocates to remove Israel from the proper focus of God’s eternal plan for His cherished people.

Since Yeshua quoted Psalm 37:11 in Matthew 5:5, the Bible student must grasp the context of this Psalm to comprehend how Jesus was using this passage. In the last article, we looked at five themes of Psalm 37. Now we will dig into the passage itself as it leads up to verse 11,  “But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace” (ESV).

Was Jesus removing the land of Israel promised to the Jewish people and handing it off to the “meek”? Of course, the meek, according to RT, refers to Christians. However, since followers of Jesus are a spiritual people whose citizenship is in heaven, the “land,” according to RT, now refers to heaven, not the geographical strip of land in the Middle East adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

After studying ReplacementTheology since 1971, I have concluded this is not a study of an impractical issue but a defense of the truthfulness of God’s character. Can His word be trusted? My concern in every article I have written and every sermon I taught on this subject is the veracity of God’s character and His word in light of the shadow cast by RT on the Church. This same burden drives my passion for writing this series of articles.

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Did Jesus Give Away the Land of Israel to Christians? (Matthew 5:5) Part 2

Photo courtesy of The Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation

Introduction

It is next to impossible to not know what the heartfelt cry, “Stop the Steal” refers to. In the aftermath of the November 3, 2020 presidential race, there are a great number of Trump supporters who believe the election was stolen; thus the declared winner of that contest, Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.

Along with the questionable belief that the election victory of former President Dοnald Trump was pilfered from the former POTUS, we find various conspiratorial assumptions fermenting among a select segment of his support base. According to some conspiracy subscribers, as reported by Joel Lawrence from Center for Pastor Theologians, God has promised to give President Trump another four years in the White House and the “Deep State” has been working to thwart the will of the Lord (“Faith, Apocalypse, and Nationalism: Why Evangelicals are Vulnerable to Conspiracy Theories”, Center for Pastor Theologians, 01/25/2021).

AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

From these alleged concerns comes the cry, “Stop the Steal!” In the January 6th insurrection of our nation’s capital, we heard the cry repeatedly among those who stormed our nation’s treasured buildings and from those who protested “peacefully” outside. Joel Lawrence traces some of the roots that led to the “Stop the Steal” protest:

According to the Presidential narrative, this vast conspiracy involved Hugo Chavez, Dominion voting machines, Republican governors and Secretaries of State, Democratic poll workers in largely African American cities, Antifa, and countless others. These theories thrived in an environment of conspiracy, eventually leading to an attack on the United States Capitol, in which five people lost their lives and the safety of legislators were threatened.

“Faith, Apocalypse, and Nationalism: Why Evangelicals are Vulnerable to Conspiracy Theories”, Center for Pastor Theologians, 01/25/2021

The important takeaway is that President Trump, along with an extensive team of lawyers and advisors claimed without evidence in court, the 2020 vote for the president was rigged. Despite the data to the contrary, a majority of Trump supporters still aggressively believe the election was poached from the 45th president.

The steal of the identity of the nation of Israel

This author does not hesitate to apply the term “steal” to the teaching among conservative replacement theologians who profess the nation of Israel has been replaced by the church. Essentially, Replacement Theology(RT) maintains the Church or even Jesus is the “new Israel”.

If Jesus or the Church is the “new” Israel, God’s chosen nation has been replaced by a greater spiritual reality. Therefore, the status of Israel is reduced from a people who are the “elect of God” to a community “abandoned by God” when it comes to His national promises to the Jewish people. If this teaching is not true, then these academics, pastors and theologians are guilty of stealing the rightful God-given identity of Israel and misapplying this divine status to the Church.

Photo from Winnipeg Free Press March 24, 2021 https://bit.ly/3qsVFXY

The root of this thinking is the misunderstanding of the election of Israel. The chosen status of the Jewish people has been misread by the Jewish nation’s detractors and supporters in several ways:

1) Many believe chosenness implies the Jewish people are superior to other peoples. Since ethnic or racial superiority is contrary to biblical truth, the Jewish people have disqualified themselves to be divine representatives on earth. This responsibility, according to RT advocates has been transferred over to the Church. This erroneous impression of Israel’s runaway self-importance and superiority is absent from traditional Jewish teaching. if anything, God’s election of Israel calls for the nation to have a greater moral and spiritual responsibility before God and man.

2) Others wrongly maintain Israel’s election grants divine approval of all Israel’s decisions and actions when it comes to the Palestinians. A simple perusing of Israel’s 73-year history demonstrates the nation’s constant examination of its relationship with the Palestinians. On several occasions, Israelis have taken to the streets in protest of the IDF’s actions towards their Arab neighbors. The Jewish nation displays little evidence their concept of chosenness provides them a free pass when it comes to unfair treatment towards those who oppose the establishment of the Jewish state. Once again, anti-Israel evangelicals are grossly mistaken to try to belittle Israel’s elect status because of the Jewish state’s perceived or actual mistreatment of other peoples. When necessary, Israel has proven time after time its willingness for self-examination and self-correction in regards to the Palestinian people.

3) Israel’s election, according to some Christian Zionists, is an alternative for Jewish people needing to believe in the Messiah Yeshua. Christian Zionists who hold to this viewpoint believe are truly supportive of Israel. Yet they are not true to the divine plan for the Jewish nation which includes accepting Yeshua as the promised Messiah. Backing the nation of Israel by Christian Zionists is greatly appreciated by the Jewish nation. However, these well-meaning Christians are pilfering from Israel the blessing of finding redemption in Yeshua.

Due to this fallacious grasp of the election of Israel, many evangelical theologians are susceptible to eliminating Israel from God’s eternal plan for the nation. One of the ways this depreciation pans out is through the teaching Israel has been replaced by the triumphant Church that DID accept Yeshua as Messiah. I often wonder if we applied these same tests of moral superiority and unchecked behavior to evangelicals, how well our elect status would hold together? Church history-both ancient and modern-is filled with numerous occasions when the Church has behaved in ways that betrayed its elect status. Yet to select evangelical scholars, the moral test only applies to Israel.

in contrast, the Apostle Paul warns Gentile Christians, “do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you” (Romans 11:18–21 ESV).

The steal of the land once promised to the people of Israel

RT advocates the Old Testament land promises no longer describe a geographical space. The nation Israel failed to enter into the physical and spiritual rest to be found in the Promised Land. Presently the land promises have been overhauled. These Christian academics teach the spiritual rest Israel was to experience in the physical land of Israel can now be encountered in the promised spiritual rest in Jesus minus the possession of the land. Some Christian thinkers have added the land of Israel was merely a shadow of the ultimate eternal rest experienced in heaven or in Yeshua.

Thus, the geographical promise of the land of Israel made to the Jewish nation has been transformed into a spiritualized improvement. The spiritual rest in the Son of God appeals especially to those evangelicals who have bought into a Gnostic dualism in which the material world is inferior to the transcendent reality of heaven. If the material land promises now refer to Jesus or heaven or the Church, then the Old Testament promises to the Jewish people are null and void or unnecessary. We now have the greater spiritual reality that the land promised to Abraham pointed to.

In the opinion of this author, the belief system of Replacement Theology is a “steal” of Israel’s rightful place in biblical theology. Once God made time-tested promises to Israel regarding a people, a land and a channel for blessing to others. Now these promises have been reinterpreted and confiscated from the Jewish people by replacement theologians.

Louis Lapides

This present series of articles focuses on the use of the third beatitude to disparage God’s promises of the land to Israel. The misapplication of the third beatitude is a prime example of how RT theologians have no qualms about deploying New Testament passages to support their theological system that supplants or steals God’s blessings from the nation of Israel.

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Leaving A Legacy Amidst a Global Disaster

Photo by peter-f-wolf Unsplash.com

My parents both passed away within the last decade. They are buried in a Jewish cemetery in North Lauderdale, Florida. Whenever I am in the Sunshine State, I make every effort to show my respect and visit their gravesites.

I find it a bewildering experience to observe the engravings on the grave stones in this memorial park. Some headstones illustrate that the departed were avid gamblers. On their markers are carved images of dice, playing cards, roulette wheels and cocktail glasses. The only thing missing is whether after thirty years of gambling, they came out ahead or died with a heavy debt.

Why would someone who lived for almost a century desire to be known for their gambling passion? What kind of legacy are they passing on to their loved ones?

In this article we look at Noah, a man who left us a legacy of faithfulness to God in the midst of an impending worldwide disaster. He has many descriptions written about him in Scripture that chronicle how he handled the universal crisis that confronted him. Any one of these statements could have been written on his tombstone: a man who “found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:8); “a righteous man, blameless in his generation . . . walked with God” (Genesis 6:9); “an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith” (Hebrews 11:7) and a “herald of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5).

Noah left us an example of how we can conduct ourselves when life does not meet our expectations. Yes, there are vast differences between ourselves and Noah that impede us from drawing an exact parallel. Yet there are some spiritual attitudes possessed by this patriarch that can help us during the current COVID-19 crisis of crippling economic deprivation, extreme health hazards and separation from loved ones.

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