What Is Replacement Theology?

Replacement Theology was introduced to the Church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from the original Jewish leadership, some time after 70 AD. Replacement Theology teaches that the Church replaces Israel in the program of God. The Church is the New Israel, and the replacement for Israel, and the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian Church, not in biblical, literal, Israel. Replacement Theology teaches that the Jewish people are now no longer a “chosen people.” In fact, they are no different from any other nation. The Jewish people have no special future, and no longer have a special purpose in the plan of God. In Romans 11:1 Paul asks, “Has God rejected His Jewish people?” Dispensationalists, like Paul, emphatically answer no. Replacement theologians answer yes.

Replacement Theology does not believe that all the prophecies in the Holy Scriptures concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Land of Promise, like Ezekiel 36-48, and Zechariah 12-14, much of Isaiah 59-66, and many other prophetic passages are to be taken literally, but taken non-literally, or “spiritualized” into promises of God’s blessing for the Church. However, the prophecies of condemnation and judgment still remain for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. Those passages are taken literally. When you take away the promises of blessing from the Jewish people, and leave only the curses, this lack of theological balance can lead to anti-Semitism, which some accuse Replacement Theology of being guilty of.

But, if God has rejected Israel, and there is no special future for the Jewish nation, how do we account for the supernatural survival of the Jewish people among the nations for 2500 years, Israel’s rebirth among the nations, a flourishing modern democratic Jewish state, these amazing victories in major wars with the surrounding Egyptian and Arab nations, who have a vastly larger population, supported by great oil wealth? How about the Spirit of God being given to more and more Jewish people, so that the Messianic Jewish community is growing and growing?

If God has rejected Israel, why should Christians stand by Israel? And if they don’t stand by Israel, won’t they be in danger of going along with the nations, and experiencing the punishment foretold in Joel 3:1-2? “In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat. Then I will enter into judgment with them there on behalf of My people and My inheritance, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; and they have divided up My land.”

Might Christians not join with all the nations that unite to destroy the Jewish people who will be in the Land of Israel in the Last Days and wind up fighting against the Lord (Zechariah 12)? Who is a Christian to stand with? The nations of the world, and their united nations army, or little Israel? Aren’t they in danger of experiencing the curse found in Genesis 12? I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you?

The eschatology of the Scriptures is connected to the nation of Israel. Paul tells us that the future blessing of the entire world depends on Israel, and on Israel’s salvation. “If their transgression be riches for the world, and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be?” And, we want that “how much more!” Paul also writes, “if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” When the majority of Israel accepts Messiah Yeshua, and God’s full acceptance of us, it will be like life from the dead, resurrection for the entire world, like a whole new glorious golden age for mankind.

And Christians should want to be part of that, and work with God toward that glorious goal. But you generally won’t if you accept Replacement Theology. You will, if you believe in Dispensational theology. If you are a Dispensationalist, you take these things literally, and your sympathies are with the Jewish people. If you are a Replacement theologian, then generally you are not very sympathetic to Israel.

Christians should be the greatest lovers and supporters of the Jewish people. Salvation has come to the Gentiles to make the Jewish people jealous. So Christians have a special love and sympathy and compassion and heart for the Jewish people. But that has rarely been the case in the Church – in fact, quite the opposite, and part of the fault lies with Replacement Theology.