Does Israel Have a Future? – Part 8

Norbert Lieth and Johannes Pflaum

Under Replacement Theology, an important covenant is misclassified and robbed of its earthly promises for the people and land of Israel: the Abrahamic Covenant. Unlike the Old (Mosaic) Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant is a one-sided covenant which God made unconditionally with Abraham.

The Prophets and Israel's Future

Bible teacher Loraine Boettner once wrote: “It is generally agreed that if the prophecies are taken literally, they do foretell a restoration of the nation of Israel in the land of Palestine, with the Jews having a prominent place in that kingdom and ruling over the other nations.”

Interestingly, Loraine Boett-  ner was a committed replacement theologian. Nevertheless, the Old Testament prophets speak very clearly and distinctly about Israel’s future, when they are read without a preconceived theological system in view, as Boettner himself had to admit. The land question once more proves to be the strongest argument against Replacement Theology.

Many forthcoming promises for Israel speak not only of Israel, but also of “Israel and Jacob,” or “Jacob and Israel.” The prophet Isaiah begins his 43rd chapter this way:

“But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.”

Then, beginning in verse 7, promises follow for Israel’s future gathering together from all directions (i.e., not just from one direction, as from Babylonian exile).

Isaiah 10:20 speaks of both Israel and the house of Jacob in the context of future salvation.

In Jeremiah 31:35-37, the Lord speaks of the fact that His covenant with Israel as a people is no more capable of being dissolved than the natural order and the limits of science that He established for mankind. This promise from God is confirmed again in Jeremiah 33:25-26. It first mentions the seed of Jacob, and then the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And if that weren’t enough, Isaiah even associates Israel’s enduring existence with the new heavens and earth to come (Isaiah 66:22).

Further passages from the prophet Isaiah are representative of the other prophets. They mention the double phrasing “Israel and Jacob” or “Jacob and Israel” in the context of forthcoming promises to Israel: Isaiah 14:1; 27:6; 41:14; 44:1-2; 48:12; 49:5. Additionally, there are numerous other prophetic Scriptures about Israel’s future that speak only of Jacob. Some of the passages from Isaiah are 29:22; 59:20; 65:9. Why is the mention of Jacob important in this context?

For one thing, the Old Testament always uses the name “Jacob” or “house of Jacob” to indicate the chosen people of Israel in their unredeemed state, just as Jacob the patriarch was unredeemed before his encounter with the living God at Peniel. He received a new name, Israel, after his own strength was quenched in the struggle with God (Gen 32:24-32). Thus, the double designation Jacob/Israel makes it clear what the chosen people is in itself, as well as what God will one day make of His people. Therefore, in many places in the prophets, judgment is announced; not just for Israel, but also for Jacob or the “house of Jacob” (cf. Is 42:24; 43:28; 58:1). So, the double designation Israel/Jacob not only represents the unredeemed state of the people of Israel, but also is used in promises yet to be fulfilled to make it clear how God will achieve His purpose for His people.

On the other hand, the name Jacob is never used in the New Testament to refer to the Church of Jesus. For this reason, it is inappropriate to apply the promises made to Jacob and Israel to the Church. Jacob is always associated with the people of Israel, never the Church!

The name Jacob is mentioned 25 times in the New Testament. Twenty-two of them are dealing with the patriarch Jacob as a person, which leaves three in which “Jacob” isn’t referring to him. Two of them are in Romans 9—11, the big passage about Israel and the Church. In Romans 9:13, the name is used in connection with Israel’s election to illustrate the importance of God’s election for His saving work. And Paul quotes the promise from Isaiah 59:20 in Romans 11:26, to establish Israel’s future salvation. Here too, Jacob is associated with the current unsaved state of the people, until the time when the Lord will prevent ungodliness. In the third passage, Luke 1:33, Jesus’ birth is announced, and Christ is referred to as the Ruler over the house of Jacob. The house of Jacob always refers to the chosen people of Israel as well. This is corroborated by verse 32, which speaks of the throne of His father David.

To summarize, we can say that the New Testament only uses the name Jacob three times when it is not directly referencing the patriarch. But even in these passages, there is an unmistakable reference to the people of Israel. By contrast, the unsaved people in the New Testament are associated with Adam (Rom 5:14; 1 Cor 15:22).

Replacement theologians overlook the fact that the yet-to-be-fulfilled promises made to Israel are intrinsically linked to Jacob or the house of Jacob. When this term is used in the Bible and isn’t referencing the patriarch himself, it is referring exclusively to the people of Israel (and never the Church).

Let’s remain with the prophet Isaiah, who has something to say about Israel’s future.

In Isaiah 11:1-5, Jesus’ first and second comings are interwoven. Events that occur thousands of years apart are revealed here with no segue, in a single act.

The first four verses describe Jesus’ first coming. However, Isaiah also speaks—without transition—of the Lord’s return by prophesying:

“And he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins” (Isa 11:4b-5).

Since Jesus didn’t do this at His first coming, the passage must be referring to His return.

The verses that follow Isaiah 11:1-5 involve the fulfillment of one of mankind’s dreams. This dream can only be realized through the Messiah. He is the only One able to bring forth the righteousness described in the chapter’s opening verses. It is the righteousness that He accomplished at His first coming through His death and resurrection, and which He will enforce at His second coming: “And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins” (v. 5). 

After that, it says:

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (vv. 6-9).

Isaiah 11 is describing a true golden age, where formerly dangerous and venomous beasts are harmless and no longer kill each other; the lion will eat straw. It’s a time when children can play with these animals without fear; a time when there will be no more war, and no more terror in the Middle East and worldwide! The Apostle Paul confirms this truth in the New Testament:

“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now” (Rom 8:19-22).

As labor pains bring forth new life, so the pains of tribulation will bring about Creation’s rebirth.

We must never lose sight of the fact that just as all of Creation fell through Adam, so through Jesus everything is restored. God never abandons a work that He has begun (Rom 5:12-21)!

“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious” (Isa 11:10).

These words show us how the Gentiles (or nations) will inquire of the Lord (who is the root of Jesse), the One who is of the house of David. And they will be led into His rest. This is fulfilled in Revelation 22:16: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.”

News from Israel - 02/2023

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