THE CHURCH A SUBSTITUTE FOR ISRAEL?
THERE is a widespread belief among Christians that Israel, the nation which God brought into being to be the instrument of His Purpose, has been replaced by the Christian Church. It is true that, as a result of disobedience and sin, the Israel nation fell and that her people were carried away into exile from which only a remnant returned (Ezra 3:8; 9:8; Nehemiah 1:3). It is also true that the few who did return, called Jews, refused to accept the Son of God and were consequently set aside by Him as the instrument of His Purpose (Matthew 21:43; John 1:11-12).
So with Israel "lost" (Jeremiah 50:6; Matthew 5: 10; 15:24) and with the Jews' rejection, it has appeared to some that God's Plan of using Israel as the instrument of His Purpose has failed. Therefore they assume that He must have substituted the Christian Church for the people of Israel.
However, before we charge God with having made a mistake, or say that He has had to change His mind and substitute a church for the nation Israel, let us consider for a moment that purpose for which Israel was chosen.
When read as a whole, the Bible shows very clearly that God brought the Israel people into being and formed them into a nation to demonstrate the righteousness of His Kingdom-that perfect social order and government which He designed for mankind; to show the benefits of obedience to His moral laws in ALL things, religious, political, social and economic; and to extend His Kingdom and the administration of His precepts throughout the earth.
A moment's thought will show that this Purpose can never be accomplished by the Christian Church. The Church could not function as a social order or even as a government. Neither could it demonstrate the righteousness of God's kingdom, for it has no means of administering or enforcing His laws. Yet without doing so, how can it replace Israel in the fulfillment of God's Plan?
To quibble by saying that God has changed His Plan is to contradict His own Words, for the Bible quotes Him as saying, "I am the Lord, I change not." (Malachi 3:6)
The folly of presuming that God's plans have failed and that substitutes are in order is shown in the Bible story of Abraham and his wife Sarah. When Sarah passed the normal age of child-bearing without giving birth to the son whom God had promised them, they lost faith and their attempt to provide a substitute ended in tragic failure.
So also in this matter, we dare not attempt to substitute a Church for the Divinely-ordained nation Israel. Each serves its own purpose in God's Plan. The function of the Christian Church is to proclaim Christ and the gospel of salvation to all people, whereas Israel was chosen to demonstrate the righteousness of God's kingdom and laws on a national basis and to extend and administer them throughout the earth. Thus each has its part to play in God's Great Purpose and only evil can come of any attempt to substitute one for the other.
When Abraham and Sarah could see no possibility of having the son whom God had promised, they ignored the promise and tried a substitute. Likewise many Christians can see no possibility of Israel fulfilling the Abrahamic covenants, so they ignore God's promise and try to substitute the Church. Even as the other attempt ended in tragedy, so also will this, for
"God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of Man that he should repent; hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" (Numbers 23: 19)
Repeatedly and in the most emphatic terms God has promised that as long as the heavens and the earth remain, and as long as we continue to have day and night, Israel will continue as the instrument of His Purpose (J eremiah 31:31-37). The heavens and the earth are still with us and we are still having day and night. Therefore Israel wil! fulfil her Divinely appointed commission, and the claim that she has been replaced by the Church is false.
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