The Chosen People View of Israel

Replacement Theology

Since the return of Israel in 1948, Christian scholars and leaders have had to reassess their view of Israel in their eschatology of the last days to account for the return of Israel as a nation. 

Replacement theology has a distorted view of Israel which concludes that the Christian Church has replaced Israel, and they are now considered to be “spiritual Israel.” Therefore, all the promises made to literal Israel are voided or reapplied to the Christian Church. This view normally holds that God has judged and rejected the Jewish people as a whole and has long fostered antisemitism in the world. Entire denominations have taken anti-Israel positions and felt justified in doing so because they hold that God has rejected Israel as evidenced by the scattering of the tribes to the nations. 

They have failed to see that God has promised to bring the scattered tribes back home and to restore them to all the promises made to their forefathers. (Ezekiel 36:24). 

According to Lifeway Research, about 30% of Evangelicals still hold a replacement theology view and another 32% are not sure (News.Lifeway.com). This means that the majority of Christians (62%) are still in transition of how to view Israel and what place they have before God. Imagine, immediately following the creation of the Jewish State in 1948, the realization that God was still honoring His promises to the Jewish people? This created an earth-shaking revelation and a shift in how the church would now view Israel. Some Christians have made this shift, but some have not. 

Early Zionist pioneers on the Deganya Kibbutz in northern Israel

 Common People Theology

Another distorted view of Israel by some Christians is what might be called, “The Common People View.” This view also assumes that Israel no longer holds the position of “God’s Chosen People.” They see them as having forfeited this position and are, therefore, to be viewed as any other people. Christians who hold this view see the Jews as lost and in need of salvation, in the same way they see others who are without hope and in need of redemption. They fail to see the covenant relationship Israel has with God.

The apostle Paul raises this question in Romans 11, “Has God cast away His people (Israel)? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite.” He describes the Jewish people as the elect of God according to the election of grace. (Romans 11:5)

Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” 

The word grace here in Hebrew is “Khen” which means “Favor.” The Jewish people have an “election of favor” as God’s Covenant Chosen people. 

In Ezekiel 36:22, God says, He will return the tribes from the nations for His own name’s sake to honor His covenant promises to Israeln (Ezekiel 36:22-23). This is a part of the “election of favor.” Hashem says, He will redeem them, and give them new hearts to follow Him which includes “Putting His Spirit in them.” (Ezekiel 36:24-26). Why does God promise to do this for the Jewish people? He is honoring His covenant promises of the election of favor to them. 

This honoring of the Jewish people is the “Election of Grace” spoken of by the apostle Paul. He says of them, “For the gifts and the calling of God (to Israel) are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29). All of these biblical reminders of God’s election of the Jewish people nullify the “Replacement View of Israel,” and that the Jewish people have no special place before God. The removal of this “Common People View” should also challenge the church to understand that it is not our role to go out and convert the Jews. God himself, says he will redeem them (Zechariah 10:8-9). He says He will put His Spirit in them as He brings back the scattered tribes to the land of Israel and restores them (Ezekiel 36:26). 

The “Common People View” used by Christians should be replaced by “The Chosen People View.” Based on research one can conclude that most Christians today hold the “Common People View” concerning the Jews (News.lifeway.com) This group would include the “Replacement Theology” group and the undecided, which would be in excess of 60% of Evangelicals. Despite these numbers, Christians are still some of the strongest supporters of the Jewish State along with the U.S. Congress. These figures indicate that there is a need for more education and a greater shift in understanding the role of Israel in the earth. 

Christian Evangelical supporters wave during the annual parade in Jerusalem

The Chosen People View Application

The shift away from the Common People View to the Chosen People View of the Jews should help us see that God has a special covenant relationship with the Jews. Why is this truth important to grasp? It directly impacts how we see the evangelization of the Jews, which is a huge part of global missions for mainline Christians who want to evangelize the world. Paul made this call to the Christian church in an attempt to correct their wrong view of the Jewish people, “You do not support the root (Jews,) but the root (Israel) supports you. Do not boost against them.” (Romans 11:18).

The Shift in Seeing the Favor of God on Israel

The next big shift in the thought of how we are to relate to Israel is to move from the distortion of “Replacement Theology” to addressing the distortion of seeing Israel as just another nation (The Common View of Israel), to seeing Israel as “The Chosen Covenant People” of God who have a prophetic role and destiny in the earth. The calling and election of Israel are a part of the Favor of God, and this calling is irrevocable. 

The Proper Biblical Focus for Israel

Therefore, the proper focus for the Evangelical should be to pray for the Jews and encourage the return of the Jewish people to their homeland in fulfillment of prophecy knowing that God will, himself, redeem and bring them salvation and restoration. It is not our role to try to convert the Jewish people. Isaiah describes our role with a beautiful picture of the Jewish people returning to Israel:

“Behold, I will lift My hand in an oath to the nations and set up My standard for the peoples: They shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders; Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers.” (Isaiah 49:22-23). 

New immigrants from North America arrive on a special ” Aliyah Flight” on behalf of Nefesh B’Nefesh organization

The Biblical Role of Evangelicals for the Jews.

The role of Evangelicals needs to shift from evangelizing the Jews to supporting the Aliyah Return of the Jews from the nations back to Israel. One of the ways we “carry the sons and daughters back in our arms” is through prayer and by supporting those organizations who are bringing them back. There is a great need to break down the walls erected between Jews and Christians by showing compassion and love towards the Jewish people. Even Jesus went about doing good and ministering to people’s needs before presenting the kingdom. (Acts 10:38). This shift of seeing the Jews as God’s “Covenant Chosen People” should bring a change of focus to look at the humanitarian needs of the Jews along with supporting security for the Jewish State.  

A Light to the Nations

The prophet Isaiah in pointing to the prophetic destiny of Israel when she returns to her land in Israel says, “But the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:2-3) God’s chosen people will be used by Him in the last days to show forth His glory in the nations. Here is a picture of what Paul described, “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”  (Romans 11:18).

The shift away from “The Common View” of Israel to seeing them as “The Chosen People” of God is going to cause a greater earthquake in the church than when they had to see that Replacement Theology was a distortion that needed to be corrected in 1948. A shift away from the “Common View Theology” distortion to God’s “Chosen People View” is an even bigger shift. This shift is needed to see God’s plans and prophetic destiny for Israel for her to be a light to the world (Isaiah 60:3) and to bless all the families of the earth. (Gen. 12:3). The prophet declares, “In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established in the highest of mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it.” (Isaiah 2:2 NIV).

God (Hashem) has not changed His plan or view of Israel. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8/Malachi 3:6). The Jews are still a “Chosen” people.

“For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” Deuteronomy 7:6 (NKJB)

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