Has God Rejected Israel?
By Jonathan C. Brentner
It’s becoming increasingly popular in Bible-believing churches to believe that God rejected the nation of Israel after the first century Jews rejected Jesus. Those who hold this view believe that the Lord has replaced Israel with the church. As a result, the church now inherits the kingdom promises of the Old Testament in a “spiritual” sense.
This teaching often goes by the name of “replacement theology” or “amillennialism.” I have many problems with such teaching starting the words of Paul in Romans 11:2, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” I am not sure how some get around Paul’s clear assertion in this text that God has not rejected Israel, but many do.
Besides the fact that this teaching contradicts Paul’s words in Romans 11, there is a more fundamental reason for discarding replacement theology: such teaching undermines the credibility of God.
No, I am not out of mind (although some of you might think so by now). Allow me to explain why I am not crazy.
God Made Many Great Promises to Israel
Throughout the Old Testament, God made many promises to Israel based on the covenants He made with the Patriarchs.
The Lord said that the coming Messiah would one day reign on the throne of David (Isa. 9:6-7). The prophet Isaiah expanded on this theme throughout his book. A couple chapters later he predicted a righteous rule over the world from a future descendent of King David, undoubtedly Jesus (11:1-5; 32:1). Zechariah prophesied that one day the Lord would “be king over all the earth” during which time the nations of the world would come to Jerusalem to worship Jesus (14:9-21).
Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Lord announced that is long as the sun gives light and the fixed order of the moon and stars remain, Israel will be a nation in His sight (49:35-40). The latter verses in this passage make it clear that this is a reference to a physical Jerusalem as the capital of this nation.
In Psalm 105:8-11, the Lord leaves no doubt as to the eternal nature of His covenant of the Land with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. While Israel’s enjoyment of the land depended upon her obedience, the promise of the Land to Israel came from an “everlasting covenant,” one that was unconditional at the time the Lord made it with Abram in Genesis 15:12-21.
God Made the Promises Knowing Israel Would Reject Jesus
Did God know about Israel’s rejection of the Messiah when He promised that “the Lord will be king over all the earth” reigning from Jerusalem (Zech. 14:9-21)? Absolutely! How could He not know?
Just two chapters earlier, the prophet Zechariah wrote this, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (12:10). Before predicting Jesus’ rule over all the earth, Zechariah prophesied that the people of Israel will look upon the Savior they crucified with the result of a huge outpouring of repentance and weeping (12:10-13:1).
Do not miss this: after prophesying that the Jews would be responsible for piercing the Messiah, the Lord through the prophet said He would rule over all the earth from Jerusalem.
When God promised a great kingdom to Israel, He knew the people would reject the Messiah leading to His crucifixion. This is also clear from Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22.
The Lord made all His marvelous promises to Israel knowing full well the nation would reject His Son, which would lead to His crucifixion.
What Does this Say about God?
If God has rejected Israel, it means He did so despite knowing all about Jesus’ crucifixion when He made His kingdom promises to Israel. In other reasons, He already knew the reason He would negate His promises to Israel when He made them. What does that say about His character?
Why would the Lord fill the Old Testament with promises for Israel and her kingdom if He knew they would reject His Son, which would lead to His casting them aside?
Consider also this promise Jesus made to His disciples, “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel'” (Matt. 19:28). Jesus promised his disciples future ruling positions over Israel after predicting His death and resurrection (Matt. 16:21).
For this to be true, Jesus knew His death on the cross would not negate God’s promise of a kingdom to Israel, the ones whose rejection caused His death.
Furthermore, if God can default on the covenants He made to the likes of Abraham, Jacob, and David because of sin, what does that say about our security?
Perhaps this is why a popular Bible prophecy teacher said, “Israel’s future guarantees our salvation.”