For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:26-29
In the first post of this series, I looked at the first half of an article by Dr. Fred Klett, a Messianic Jew and Jewish Evangelist, that dispatches with the notion that believing the New Testament teaching regarding the true nature of New Covenant Israel leads to a “replacement theology.” The replacement theology notion is a misnomer and a strawman. According to the New Testament, Israel has not been replaced in God’s plan, but has fulfilled it’s destiny. It has been greatly expanded through the work of Jesus Christ. In Christ, all the Old Covenant promises are fulfilled, so those that are in Christ receive all the promised blessing.
In the second half of his article, Dr. Klett provides some quotes from the most important and most respected Covenant theologians regarding the future state of the Biblical nation of Israel in God’s plan. From these quotes we see that an understanding of God’s future plans for ethnic Jews and a restored Israel is not the sole domain of dispensationalism.
“And if some of the branches be broken off [Jews by nature], and thou, being a wild olive tree [NOT Jews], wert graffed in among them [into Israel], and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree [Israel]; …And they also [natural branches = Jews by nature], if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in [Israel]: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature [Gentile nations], and wert graffed contrary to nature [a Gentile as an Israelite is contrary to nature] into a good olive tree [Israel]: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” [The Jews can naturally be graffed back into “Israel”] (bracketed notes are mine)
“I extend the word Israel to all the people of God, according to this meaning, -When the Gentiles shall come in, the Jews also shall return from their defection to the obedience of faith; and thus shall be completed the salvation of the whole Israel of God, which must be gathered from both; and yet in such a way that the Jews shall obtain the first place, being as it were the first born in God’s family.
…as Jews are the firstborn, what the Prophet declares must be fulfilled, especially in them: for that scripture calls all the people of God Israelites, it is to be ascribed to the pre-eminence of that nation, who God had preferred to all other nations…God distinctly claims for himself a certain seed, so that his redemption may be effectual in his elect and peculiar nation…God was not unmindful of the covenant which he had made with their fathers, and by which he testified that according to his eternal purpose he loved that nation: and this he confirms by this remarkable declaration, -that the grace of the divine calling cannot be made void.”
“The second great event, which, according to the common faith of the Church, is to precede the second advent of Christ, is the national conversion of the Jews….that there is to be such a national conversion may be argued…from the original call and destination of that people. God called Abraham and promised that through him, and in his seed, all the nations of the earth should be blessed…A presumptive argument is drawn from the strange preservation of the Jews through so many centuries as a distinct people.
As the rejection of the Jews was not total, so neither is it final. First, God did not design to cast away his people entirely, but by their rejection, in the first place, to facilitate the progress of the gospel among the Gentiles, and ultimately to make the conversion of the Gentiles the means of converting the Jews…Because if the rejection of the Jews has been a source of blessing, much more will their restoration be the means of good…The restoration of the Jews to the privileges of God’s people is included in the ancient predictions and promises made respecting them…The plan of God, therefore, contemplated the calling of the Gentiles, the temporary rejection and final restoration of the Jews…
He shows that the rejection of the Jews was not intended to result in their being finally cast away, but to secure the more rapid progress of the gospel among the heathen, in order that their conversion might react upon the Jews, and be the means of bringing all, at last, within the fold of the Redeemer…
The future restoration of the Jews is, in itself, a more probable event than the introduction of the Gentiles into the church of God. This, of course, supposes that God regarded the Jews, on account of their relation to him, with peculiar favor, and that there is still something in their relation to the ancient servants of God and his covenant with them, which causes them to be regarded with special interest. As men look upon the children of their early friends with kinder feelings than on the children of strangers, God refers to this fact to make us sensible that he still retains purposes of peculiar mercy towards his ancient people.
As the restoration of the Jews is not only a most desirable event, but one which God has determined to accomplish, Christians should keep it constantly in view even in their labors for the conversion of the Gentiles.”
“To the Jew first, and also to the Greek…It does not appear sufficient to regard this priority as that merely of time. In this text there is no suggestion to the effect that the priority is merely that of time. The implication appears to be rather that the power of God unto salvation through faith has primary relevance to the Jew, and the analogy of Scripture would indicate that this peculiar relevance to the Jew arises from the fact that the Jew had been chosen by God to be the recipient of the promise of the gospel and that to him were committed the oracles of God…
While it is true that in respect of the privileges accruing from Christ’s accomplishments there is now no longer Jew or Gentile and the Gentiles “are fellow-heirs, and fellow-members of the body, and fellow-partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel” (Eph. 3:6), yet it does not follow that Israel no longer fulfills any particular design in the realization of God’s worldwide saving purpose…
Israel are both “enemies” and “beloved” at the same time, enemies as regards the gospel, beloved as regards the election…”Beloved” thus means that God has not suspended or rescinded his relation to Israel as his chosen people in terms of the covenants made with their fathers.
Unfaithful as Israel have been and broken off for that reason, yet God still sustains his peculiar relation of love to them, a relation that will be demonstrated and vindicated in the restoration.”
“The elective principle, abolished as to nationality, continues in force as to individuals. And even with respect to national privilege, while temporarily abolished now that its purpose has been fulfilled, there still remains reserved for the future a certain fulfillment of the national elective promise. Israel in its racial capacity will again in the future be visited by the saving grace of God [Rom. 11.2, 12, 25]….such conversions (of Jewish people) remain for the present but sporadic examples, though at bottom expressive of a divine principle intended to work itself out on the largest of scales at the predetermined point in the future.”
God has not replaced the Jewish people with the church. Quite to the contrary, God has grafted Gentile branches into the tree of believing Israel, a tree made up of all true believers, both Jewish and Gentile, a tree rooted in the faith of the patriarchs (Romans 11:17-24). God has expanded Israel, not replaced it.
In the next post we will look further at the present nature and future of the nation of Israel from the Scriptures.