Is There Any Hope For The Jews?
By David R. Reagan
Is there any hope for the Jews? Believe it or not, the vast majority of professing Christians in the world today, both Catholic and Protestant, would answer this question with a resounding, “NO!” That is because they have been taught that due to the fact that the Jews rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and crucified Him, God poured out His wrath on them in 70 AD, destroying their capital city, their Temple and their nation. And since that time, the church has replaced Israel.
In the viewpoint of most Christians, the Jews have been condemned by God to wander the earth aimlessly and to be persecuted wherever they might go. The once beloved people of God have become the eternally rejected people.
Here, in summary, is the claim the church has made regarding the Jews for the past 2,000 years: The Jews may have been God’s Chosen People in Old Testament times, but no longer. They rejected God as King of their nation and Jesus as King of their hearts. God poured out His wrath upon them in 70 AD, set them aside permanently, and replaced them with the church. They are devoid of any future hope. They have received what they deserve.
Rejected by God?
Well, what about it? Have the Jews ceased to be God’s Chosen People? Has God washed His hands of them? Has God replaced them with the church? Has God transferred their promises to the church? Have they lost all hope as a nation? Are they devoid of any role in the end times?
For 2,000 years, the church has answered all these questions with a “Yes! Yes! Yes!” It is my contention that the answer to all the questions should be “No! No! No!”
The Basic Issues
Let’s go to Scripture to consider four issues these questions raise about Israel: 1) Israel’s Permanence – has God rejected them? 2) Israel’s Position – has God replaced them? 3) Israel’s Promise – has God abandoned them? 4) Israel’s Purpose – does God still have one for them?
Let’s begin with a consideration of the Jews’ permanence.
…Consider, for example, the words spoken by King David to God in Second Samuel 7:24 – “For You have established for Yourself Your people Israel as Your own people forever, and You, O Lord, have become their God” (emphasis added).
Jeremiah states the same promise in powerful terms. He begins with what I call the “signature of God”: “Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; The Lord of hosts is His name” (Jer. 31:35).
Now, having clearly identified Himself, God proceeds to guarantee the permanent existence of Israel: “‘If this fixed order departs from before Me,’ declares the Lord, ‘then the offspring of Israel also will cease from being a nation before Me forever’” (v. 36). Jeremiah then emphasizes the promise in another way: “Thus says the Lord, ‘If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,’ declares the Lord” (v. 37).
What God is saying here is that the nation of Israel will exist as long as the sun comes up and goes down and the seasons of the year come and go. And then to emphasize His point, the Lord states that the nation of Israel will continue to exist until all the heavens above and the foundations of the earth below have been explored and measured. In other words, Israel is here to stay.
A very dramatic expression of this truth can be found in symbolic language in Isaiah 49:14-16. The Jewish people are portrayed as asking God why He has forsaken them and forgotten them. The Lord responds to their question with a question: “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?” God then answers His question by stating that it is possible but not probable, but He adds, “…But I will not forget you. Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands....” Think of it, God has the Jewish people inscribed on His hands!
In another passage found in Jeremiah, the prophet quotes God as saying that all nations will cease to exist except Israel: “‘For I am with you,’ declares the Lord, ‘to save you; for I will destroy completely all the nations where I have scattered you, only I will not destroy you completely. But I will chasten you justly and will by no means leave you unpunished’” (Jer. 30:11).
These passages clearly teach that God intends to preserve Israel as a nation, and He has kept that promise for 2,000 years, despite the dispersion and persecution of the Jewish people.
The clear implication is that God has a continuing purpose for the Jewish people – but we will get to that later.
What about the Jews’ position? Has God replaced Israel with the church?
Let’s see what the Apostle Paul has to say. In Romans 9:3-4 he makes a strong assertion regarding the continuing relationship between God and the Jewish people: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises.”
This was written years after the Cross. The church had been established. Yet, concerning the Jews, Paul speaks of their continuing status as adopted sons, their continuing covenants and their continuing promises.
He does not speak of any transfer of covenants or promises to the church. The fact of the matter is that the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants which God made with the Jews are unconditional and everlasting (Gen. 13:14-15; 2 Sam. 7:13).
And the New Covenant, promised to the Jews in the Old Testament (Jer. 31:31-34), and which went into effect at the death of Jesus, has been expanded to include believing Gentiles. But it remains as a promise to Israel and will not be fulfilled until the Jews turn their hearts to God and receive His Son as their Messiah.
Nevertheless, the majority of Christians who espouse Replacement Theology argue back: “The Jews rejected Jesus, therefore God rejected them.”
It sounds so reasonable, but again, let us see what Paul has to say: “Then what advantage has the Jew? ...Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God. What then? If some did not believe, their unbelief will not nullify the faithfulness of God, will it? May it never be! Rather, let God be found true, though every man be found a liar…” (Rom. 3:1-4).
As you can see, Paul’s answer is exactly the opposite of the answer of Replacement Theology. He emphatically denies that God has invalidated His promises to the Jewish people because of their unbelief.
Paul emphasizes the point again in Romans chapter 11 in no uncertain terms: “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew…” (vv. 1-2).
How could anything be clearer than this? Now, you can understand why Romans 3 and Romans 9-11 have been ignored in Christian teaching.
Paul continues with his argument in behalf of the Jews in Romans 11 – “Do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you [Gentile believers] who supports the root, but the root [Israel] supports you. …And they also [the Jews], if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. …For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery…that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.’ From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (vv. 18, 23, 25-29). (Emphasis added in verses 26, 27 and 29.)
Again, Paul makes it clear that God is not finished with the Jewish people. He has made a salvation covenant with them, and He is determined to see it through to its completion.
Let’s pause for a review: 1) God has not rejected Israel. 2) Nor has He replaced them. 3) The Jews are currently under discipline. And they will remain under discipline until they turn to God in repentance and accept Jesus as their Messiah.
This brings us to our third issue – the Jews’ promise.
God has made a promise to Israel that He intends to fulfill. It is a promise that one day the nation of Israel will become the prime nation in the world and that all the blessings of God will flow through the Jewish people. There are many Old Testament Scriptures that refer to this promise. One of the most eloquent can be found in Isaiah 2:
“Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war” (vv. 2-4).
This promise of worldwide prominence is an unconditional one that is reconfirmed in detail in Isaiah 60-63. The promise is unfulfilled to this day. God’s character, as One who never lies and One who is always faithful to fulfill His promises, requires that He fulfill this promise sometime in the future.
Now, let’s consider the purpose of the Jewish people. What was God’s purpose in calling Israel as His “Chosen People,” and is that purpose still valid today?
The Scriptures reveal two purposes: 1) He chose them to serve as a channel of His blessings. 2) He chose them to serve as a witness of Him.
A Channel of Blessings
Let’s consider the ways in which they have been a channel of God’s blessings:
God revealed Himself through them.
God gave His Word through them.
God provided the Messiah through them.
God has enriched the world through their contributions to education, science and the arts.
And during the Millennium, God will once again make them a channel of His spiritual blessings to all the world.
Incidentally, with regard to their enrichment of the world through education, science and the arts, consider this amazing fact: ...Jews number only about thirteen million, or about two-tenths of one percent of the world’s population, but they have won 196 Nobel Prizes (The Jewish Magazine).
In this regard, Winston Churchill made this observation about the Jews: “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world” (The Hope of Israel Baptist Mission).
Witnesses of God
In addition to being a channel of God’s blessings, the Jews are also witnesses of God. This role is affirmed over and over again in the Scriptures. Consider these words from Isaiah 43:10 – “‘You are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be no one after Me.’”
How are they witnesses?
They are witnesses of the existence of God. They are witnesses of the truth of the Bible. They are witnesses of what it means to have a relationship with God. They are witnesses of God’s unfathomable grace. They are witnesses of the soon return of Jesus.
Concerning the meaning of a relationship with God, I would point to the Book of Judges, where we are shown that when a nation is faithful, God blesses; when the people are unfaithful, God disciplines; and when they repent, God forgives and begins to bless again – a cycle that also applies to our individual lives.
With regard to the grace of God, His persistent love of the Jewish people despite their unfaithfulness is a vivid demonstration of the meaning of grace as unmerited favor. Even the Apostle Paul was astonished over God’s grace toward the Jewish people and cried out: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Rom. 11:33).
– Taken from The Jewish People: Rejected or Beloved? by David R. Reagan. Copyright © 2014 by Lamb & Lion Ministries. Used by permission.