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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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Does God Really Have Plans to Prosper You? (Jeremiah 29:11) Pt. 3

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 ESV

In the film documentary American Gospel writer and director Brandon Kimber shares a sampling of the messages coming out of the Prosperity Gospel movement. In one video segment Pastor Joel Osteen punches out a message in which he asks, “Who told you you can’t accomplish your dreams? God has His plans for you. Your destiny is calling out. It’s time to start living large.” In another sermon Osteen counsels, “I’m asking you to feel good about who you are.”

The focus of Osteen’s message in these video slices is not fixed on the person of Jesus. Rather the youthful Osteen concentrates on self-fulfillment and the belief God will enable us to realize the American Dream of prosperity and accomplishing our personal plans and goals. A message like this often latches on to Jeremiah 29:11 as a passage that guarantees God will enable you to attain your hopes and dreams.

Prosperity Image
Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

As we dive deeper into the Jeremiah passage, we learn the prophet’s message has little to do with actualizing one’s private ambitions. Jeremiah is not promising modern Christians that God will grant His children all aspects of the American Dream.

When Jeremiah 29:11 is misapplied in this manner, the intent of the text is tossed aside to make the words of the prophecy fit an entirely different situation. Then the Scriptures become a source text for people to quote as they wish depending on the situation. Rather than allow the Scriptures to shape our spiritual values and our attitudes towards materialism, we bend the Word of God to our own aspirations as demonstrated in the aberrant teaching of the prosperity huckster Joel Osteen.

Furthermore, in the American Gospel Dr. Julius Kim, Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Seminary California notes the harm done when the central focus on the New Testament message becomes self-fulfillment, healing and prosperity,

“We’re seeing a church in America that is becoming ultimately Christless. When we believe in a gospel thinking it is all about us, we miss Jesus’ words entirely.”

Dr. Julius Kim, Westminster Seminary California

In fact, the recipients of Jeremiah 29:11 would have been aghast at how this prophetic promise has been misunderstood and misused by modern followers of God. Sadly, the reason why the prosperity gospel is so popular is that most Bible teachers and pastors refuse to correct and call out these questionable teachers.

Today, many Christian leaders succumb to the immaturity of Christians who come out in droves to hear a carnal prosperity message. Somewhere along the line these neophyte believers were taught incorrectly. As a result, their hearts are more fixed on God’s blessings, rather than on God Himself. Once a follower of Yeshua locks into a lifestyle of seeking gifts over and above the gift giver, they are ripe for deception.

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Does God Really Have Plans to Prosper You? Jeremiah 29:11 Pt. 1

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope

(Jeremiah 29:11)
Prosperity Image
Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Jeremiah 29:11 is a much loved passage from the Jewish scriptures used by well-meaning Christians to demonstrate God’s commitment to prosper all His children. But does this verse teach this promise? In addition, we must question to whom does this verse apply? Does this passage from Jeremiah apply primarily to certain members of the nation of Israel or can all followers of Jesus claim this passage as their own?

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Ordering Off God’s Menu of Life’s Choices

Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil.

Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred Proverbs 15:16-17 (NIV).

טוֹב־מְ֭עַט בְּיִרְאַ֣ת יְהוָ֑ה מֵאוֹצָ֥ר רָ֝֗ב וּמְה֥וּמָה בֽוֹ׃

ט֤וֹב אֲרֻחַ֣ת יָ֭רָק וְאַהֲבָה־שָׁ֑ם מִשּׁ֥וֹר אָ֝ב֗וּס וְשִׂנְאָה־בֽוֹ׃

Having lunch at Subway is an unusual experience.  I am in awe of how much time it takes to order a sandwich. My sandwiches are the same:  meat, lettuce, tomatoes and mustard . . . .  wrap it up.

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_radub85'>radub85 / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Hungry people study the choices before them behind the glass case like they are on an archeological dig. We’ll take all the time we need to pick out exactly what we we want to make our gourmet Subway sandwich despite the growing line of impatient people behind us.

We enjoy having choices to make. I think God understands that part of human nature, which is why He lays out many selections regarding the way we can choose to l
ive. However, despite the variety of choices the Lord offers, this does not indicate all options are equal.

In Proverbs 15:16-17 Solomon spreads out two lifestyle  choices – wealth and simplicity – but one is better than the other.  In other words, not all choices have the same results.

Between the options of prosperity and a scaled down life, you would think a person needs to have his head examined to not choose plenty. Yet, we know life is not that simplistic.

Therefore, God sets up these two verses like several combination platters on a Chinese menu.  If you order one item, that option is accompanied by another food choice. Result?  What you assumed what was a blessing on the menu could be attended by a burden you never expected.

You are given an opportunity to pick which meal you want from each proverb.  But before you select, you need to ask the server, Solomon, what ingredients are used to make up these combination platters. (more…)




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