The ‘Israel First’ Principle

The ‘Israel First’ Principle

There are prophecies in the Bible that require an “Israel First Principle” so they are applied to Israel before they can be applied to the nations or to Christianity. The influence of “Replacement Theology” from the pre-1948 generations has caused the misapplication of many prophecies. This misapplication happens because they do not acknowledge that Israel still factors into Bible prophecy and that the Jews are still God’s chosen people. Therefore, God’s promises must be fulfilled to them. This misapplication of Bible prophecy especially applies to what God has said about Israel in the Last Days in the Bible. Christians who love Israel often do not realize they are being influenced by pre-1948 teachings until they examine their application of last-day prophecies. Applying the “Israel First Principle” helps us to examine our beliefs regarding Israel in prophecy.

Joel Outpouring of God’s Spirit

Here is an example of the “Israel First Principle” in prophecy. In the book of Joel, many Christians like to apply this exciting promise of God sending His Spirit upon all flesh, and upon our sons and daughters, to the Christian Church while excluding Israel:

“And it shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.”  Joel 2:28.

Many Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians apply this as a promise that God is going to bless the Christian Church and restore the First Century Church by sending His Spirit upon them in what is called, “The latter rain” described in Joel 2:23. There is a big problem with their application of this promise. Joel 2: 27 makes it clear that the context of this prophecy is about Israel returning to the land of Israel: 

“Then you shall know that I am in the midst of (the house of) Israel: I am your God and there is none other. My people (Israel) shall never be put to shame.” Joel 2:27

Here is what the promise is saying to the reader. God is saying, He will be seen in the midst of the (House) of Israel. The scattered tribes will be seen back in the land of Israel and God will be seen in their midst. They will “never be put to shame” as he restores them. He calls them “His people.” They are still God’s chosen people. The next verse starts out, “And it shall come to pass AFTERWARDS.” What does afterward point to? The pouring out of God’s Spirit on all flesh comes about “AFTER” the scattered tribes are back in the land of Israel. We cannot pray for this outpouring of the Spirit of God without praying for the scattered twelve tribes to return. Their return results in the blessing of the nations! Replacement theology and antisemitism have robbed Christians from embracing the real meaning of this prophecy. The Christian Church needs to acknowledge they cannot have the outpouring of God’s Spirit without an Israel Frist application of this prophecy. 

The New Covenant Promise

One of the most important biblical passages that most Christians apply is that which concerns what is called, “The New Covenant.” It is found in Hebrews 8:10-12. In this passage, the apostle Paul is quoting from Jeremiah 31:31 when he writes: 

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” 

In another glaring example of replacement theology and antisemitism, many Christians conclude that this covenant promise is for them and leave Israel out of the application. Replacement theology, based on pre 1948 theology, teaches that the Christian Church has now replaced Israel. Now that the nation of Israel is back, it is time to confront this distortion in Bible prophecy. Concluding that the New Covenant prophecy is just for Christians which excludes Israel is a huge error in biblical interpretation. It should be obvious that this promise is first to “the house of Israel.” It says, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days.” What doesafter those daysrefer to? 

Since the passage Paul is using comes from Jeremiah 31:31, we must look back to the context to see what the prophet was pointing at. The prophet Jeremiah is pointing to God’s promises to restore literal Israel back to their lands in a number of promises in this chapter. In Jeremiah 31 verse 23 says:

“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: They shall again use this speech in the land of Judah and in its cities, when I bring back their captivity: ‘The Lord bless you, O home of justice, and mountain of holiness.’”

The Lord goes on to say in Jeremiah 31 verse 27:

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast. I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord.” 

This promise is about God who is bringing back the scattered houses of Israel and Judah to the lands promised to them and restoring them. Why would God do this? Because He is honoring His covenant promises to them. The term “New Covenant” would be better translated, “Renewed Covenant.” It is the same covenant that God renews or applies in a new way. 

Restored Israel means a new revelation of God’s glory

Christians who are seeking to apply what Paul wrote in quoting Jeremiah 31:31 cannot leave Israel out in claiming what they call, “The New Covenant.” It has an Israel First application. The stated intent of the prophet Jeremiah is that God is fulfilling His promise to bring the House of Israel to her covenant lands and restore her. We see this restoration in more colorful language in Jeremiah 33:7, 9.

“And I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return and will rebuild those places as at the first. Then it shall be to Me a name of joy and praise, and an honor before all nations of the earth, who shall hear all the good that I do to them; they shall fear and tremble for all the goodness and all the prosperity that I provide for it.” 


There is a final point to be made about the New Covenant promise made by the prophet Jeremiah and cited by the apostle Paul. This promise is fulfilled when we see the scattered tribes returning to their lands. God promises that this will happen based on His workings. He will cause them to come back and to restore what they have lost. The restoration of Israel will cause all the nations of the earth to fear Him and tremble. The prophet Isaiah gives an “Israel First Prophecy” that is even more striking about how Israel’s restoration will be seen by the nations in Isaiah 60:2-3.

“And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you (Israel). Deep darkness has covered the earth, but the Lord will arise over you (Israel), and His glory will be seen upon you (Israel), the Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” 

Here is the good news! Israel will rise again as God restores His covenant people in the lands of Israel. This restoration causes God’s glory to be seen by the nations who will understand the “Israel First Principle.” We are even now seeing this restoration of the “Israel First Principle” in our day, so that Israel will be a light to the Gentiles and to the nations. 

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