by Dr Chris Koster
This is a term widely used by the Messianic Yehudim (Jews) and we similarly stress the importance of making known what it means. It is a term which is relatively unknown, however almost all Christians support the idea behind it because of the Gentile bias prevailing in nominal Churches, and they just take for granted that the Church is the chosen people. The time has come for us to look at this most sensitive issue, and get down to the very roots of where everything went wrong right back there in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
With some minor variations as to what it all entails - whether you embrace this teaching and support it, or whether you renounce it - it basically says this: "The Church has taken the place of Yisrael." Together with the Messianic Yehudim we vehemently reject this thought.
It is easy to see how this "Replacement Theology" came into being. In the year 70 the Roman army under General Titus almost completely razed to the ground the city of Yerushalayim and burned and destroyed the Set-apart Place (Temple). Some 65 years later a similar onslaught was made against the nation of Yisrael by the Romans. Emperor Hadrian at that time ordered that all the bishops of the Messianic assemblies should henceforth be Gentiles. So the Jewish bishops of the Messianic assemblies were ousted! With the prevailing anti-Semitism among the Gentile nations, and the Gentiles further hating the Yehudim by (falsely) accusing them of killing Yahushua (note well: although the religious leaders of the Yehudim asked for Him to be impaled, it was the Roman soldiers who impaled and killed Him), the Gentiles were now ready to take over, and so attempted to usurp the blessings and promises given to the Yehudim (Yisrael).
Three centuries earlier Anthiochus Epiphanes tried to Hellenise the Yehudim by using cruel measures, and by defiling and profaning the Set-apart Place (Temple) - offering a pig on the altar and setting up "the abomination that lays waste" (Zeus Olympios, Ba’al Shamem, the Lord of the heavens, the Sky- or Sun-god). What the Romans were now doing was a continuation of this or you might call it a second fulfilment of the prophecy which we read of in Dan. 8:13, 9:27, 11:31, 12:11 and of course Yahushua’s prophecy in Matt. 24:15 about the second fulfilment of this.
The True Worship, which was revealed to and given to the Yehudim (Rom. 3:2, 9:6, Ps. 147:19), together with its Set-apart Place, had now been laid waste and profaned, had become Hellenised, later also Romanised and Gentilised - defiling it by mixing it with all the abominable idolatrous customs of every Gentile nation who wished to "accept" the Messianic Belief. Read all about this in Ps. 74:1-23, 79:1, Yesh. 63:18, Yirm. 51:51, Lam. 1:10, Luke 21:24 and again read Matt. 24:15, and of course Rev. 17:1-18.
As was prophesied in the Book of Daniel, the Gentile system, headed by the Roman Beast (like its Greek forerunner) had laid waste, in an abominable way, the Set-apart Place, "the City of Yahuweh" (Yesh. 60:14) and trodden down the Chosen People, Yisrael. By doing so the stage was set for the take-over by Rome’s religious system: the Church. The Roman soldiers had previously carried off to Rome the Menorah (the golden lampstand) and other precious items of the Set-apart Place. Now it was the Church’s turn to figuratively "carry off" to Rome the Spiritual treasures of Yisrael, in fact; to usurp all of Yisrael’s blessed promises unto themselves!
At this stage I wish to ask the readers a frank question, in fact an invitation to thoroughly search the Scriptures and give me a reply. Remember that in the Scriptures we find all the answers for all major teachings of the Belief. Why do I say this? Because Amos 3:7 says, "For the Master Yahuweh does no matter unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets." All His prophets, especially His Great Prophet, Yahushua, have written down every important prophecy for us in the Scriptures. Here is the inviting question: Please show me one single positive prophetic promise given unto the Church as a body! THERE IS NOT A SINGLE POSITIVE PROPHETIC PROMISE GIVEN TO THE CHURCH AS A BODY - BUT NOWHERE! If you are tempted to believe other "prophets" - other that the prophets of Scripture - then read the stern warnings of Yesh. 8:20, Yirm. 23:21 (read all of vv 20-22 as well), Yehezqel 13:2-3 and 2 Kepha 2:1-3.
The Scriptures repeatedly confirm this fact: As a nation, as a group or body of people, Yisrael is the only chosen nation! Why? Because Yahuweh repeatedly says so, for instance 5 Mosh. 7:6, 10:15, 14:2, Ps. 135:4, Yesh. 14:1, 41:8, 44:1-2. In Amos 3:1-2 Yahuweh says to Yisrael, "You alone have I known of all the clans of the earth." What’s more, in the end-time Elohim is AGAIN going to choose Yisrael - read it for yourself in Yesh. 14:1, Zek. 1:17, 2:12. All the prophetic books in Scripture agree on this, including the Book of Revelation.
What about the born again Gentile believers coming from "all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues" ? Repeatedly we find the answer in the Scriptures. According to Romans chapter 11 they are grafted into the Good Olive Tree (believing and obedient Yisrael) in order "to share the root and fatness of the olive tree" (Rom. 11:17), to share in their Spiritual matters (Rom. 15:27). Note well: not to take their place, not to replace them! We further read in Eph. 2:19 that these ex-Gentiles (Eph. 2:11, 1 Cor. 12:2) who are born again, are "fellow citizens with the set-apart ones and members of the household of Elohim." In Eph. 3:6 they are called "co-heirs" and "partakers together in the promise in Messiah."
In Yesh. 14:1 these strangers coming in "shall join them (Yisrael), and they shall cling to the house of Ya’aqob." Remember: Yesh. 14:1-23 is end-time prophecy! But the strongest proof of this "grafting in" comes to us in another end-time prophecy, Yesh. 56:6-8. Here it clearly states that it is required of these (converted) foreigners "to join Yahuweh, to serve Him, and to love the Name of Yahuweh, to be His servants, all who guard the Sabbath, and not profane it, and hold fast My covenant..."
At this stage I wish to invite you again and ask you a second question. All Messianic believers believe that they are New Testament believers. However, the word "Testament" is an abomination which Rome brought in - the word should be rendered "Covenant." So Messianic believers believe that they are New Covenant believers, and rightly so. But Yahuweh had promised that He will make the New Covenant with the House of Yisrael (Hebr. 8:10 and Yirm. 31:33), while two verses earlier on He said it is with the House of Yisrael and the House of Yehudah! Please note: the New Covenant is not made with the Church or with any Gentile (non-Yisraelite) nation! Can you see the great deception of Replacement Theology, of the teaching that the Church has taken the place of Yisrael!
How then, is a Gentile (or Yisraelite) saved? It is so simple: believe in Yahushua and then "STAY IN ME" or "abide in Me" or "remain in Me." However, for Him to stay in us there is a condition: we need to let His Words stay in us, we need to keep the Commandments (Yoch. 15:7-10, 14:23). The blessedness of staying in Yahushua is further confirmed in Gal. 3:29 where Sha’ul says that if we "are of Messiah" (that means to belong to Him, to be part of Him), then we are the seed of Abraham, and heirs according to the promise! Please read this verse over and over again.
As we study the Scriptures, we read in Yesh. 49:1-7 of the Chosen Servant of Yahuweh, the loathed One of the nation (v 7), and it becomes obvious to all that this passage speaks of the Messiah of Yisrael. And here in verse 3 He is called"Yisrael" ! So Yahushua is the embodiment of Yisrael! And this explains to us what we read in Yoch. 15:4-7 and Gal. 3:29: if we are IN Yahushua we are IN Yisrael!
Not only is He the embodiment of Yisrael, He is the Sovereign (King) of those Yehudim, as we read in 32 places in the Messianic Scriptures! What more do we need to be grafted into True Yisrael than to be IN Yahushua, to stay IN Him, to belong to Him!
If we are grafted into the Good Olive Tree, Yisrael, does that mean we become part of all those unbelieving and disobedient Yisraelites? Again we find the answer in Scripture. In Rom. 11:19-32 we read that unbelieving and disobedient Yisraelites are broken off - they no longer belong to True Yisrael! This is confirmed in Matt. 3:10, Yoch. 15:2 and Hebr. 3:18-19.
Sha’ul further emphasises this in Rom. 9:6 where he says, "For they are not all Yisrael who are of Yisrael." And in Rom. 9:27 he says, "Though the number of the children of Yisrael be as the sand of the sea, (only) the remnant shall be saved." Scholars of Scripture explain this : There is the greater Yisrael, Yisrael after the flesh, but there is an inner core of believing and obedient Yisrael within them - this is the True Yisrael, this is the blessed remnant of which we so often read in the prophetic books. We as believing and obedient born again Gentile believers are grafted in among them, among those believing and obedient Yisraelites, those Yisraelites who are Spiritual, and who no longer are carnal.
There is a Yisrael after the flesh, a carnal Yisrael, but a True Yisraelite is one who is Spiritual. In fact, though Yehudim (Yisraelites) often tried to rely on their carnal ancestry, vainly relying on being "children of Abraham", such ones were strongly rebuked in Matt. 3:8-10 and Yoch. 8:39-44 because of their unbelief and disobedience (not bearing the fruit of righteousness). Yahushua said that the Devil is the father of such ones. (Yoch. 8:44).
To be a True Yisraelite is to comply with the one single condition Yahuweh laid down, namely, If you obey My voice, then you shall be My people and I shall be your Elohim" (Yirm. 7:23). An ex-Babylonian Abram, believed (1Mosh. 15:6), and obeyed the voice of Yahuweh by keeping the Commandments, His Laws, His Teachings (1 Mosh. 26:5), and therefore truly became the father of True Yisrael.
This condition of "If you obey My voice" is repeatedly found in Scripture, eg. 2 Mosh. 19:5, 5 Mosh. 13:4, 15:5, e.g. 28:1-2, 30:10, Yirm. 7:23, 11:4-7.
Then Yahushua came as the embodiment of His Father’s Voice, the Word made flesh (Yoch. ch. 1). His Father, on a few occasions, commanded us to hear, to listen to His Son. The necessity for obeying the Son comes to us very strongly in Yoch. 3:36, "He who believes in the Son possesses life, but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of Elohim remains on him." This is repeated in Acts 3:23, "every being who does not hear the Prophet (Yahushua) shall be utterly destroyed from among the people." This is a repeat of what was prophesied in 5 Mosh. 18:18-20. In Hebr. 5:9 we read that Yahushua is "the Causer of everlasting salvation to all those obeying Him."
This single requirement of being a True Yisraelite, a True Yehudite, is again given in Rom. 2:26-29, namely that the True Yehudim are those whose hearts are circumcised, those who keep the Law! That is exactly what Yahushua came for, to make True Yisraelites of us, to graft us into the Good Olive Tree, the True Yisrael, to save sinners, to turn carnal sinners (Jews and Gentiles) into Spiritual born again set-apart heirs or co-heirs of the Reign (Kingdom) of Elohim.
To be in the Reign of Elohim simply means this: to have the Elohim of Yisrael as your Sovereign! Although it exists at present in a Spiritual way, and those in it presently are a mixture of wheat and darnel, those who eventually overcome shall inherit it - shall be heirs and co-heirs of it, when this Reign is finally and physically established on earth.
Yahushua gave us the names of a few who already are part of this Reign, namely Yahushua Himself, Mosheh and Eliyahu. He gave us this assurance in the transfiguration on the mount (Matt. 17, Mrk. 9, Luke 9). In Matt. 8:11 and Luke 13:28 He further reveals to us that Abraham, Yitschaq, Ya’aqob and the prophets are in the Reign. All these He listed for us are Yehudim (Yisraelites)! Read Dan. 2, 7, Rev. 11:15, Yesh. 24:23 and almost every prophetic book - Yahuweh is going to reign in Yerushalayim, He is going to reign over all those who have escaped the Day of Judgment, all those who come to Tsiyon, "the City of Yahuweh" (Yesh. 60:14), for "Yahuweh shall be there" (Yehezqel 48:35).
Who is the one who leads all the world astray? Satan (Rev. 12:9). Who is the one who started the counterfeit thought that the New Covenant was to be made with another nation or group of people, other than with the House of Yisrael and the House of Yehudah?
Finally: when we say that to be IN Messiah is to be IN Yisrael, we speak of the True Messiah, the Messiah of Yisrael - we don’t speak of "another messiah," a Sabbath-breaking Law-annulling messiah which the Gentile Greeks and Romans set up for themselves. The latter is a "replacement messiah," a counterfeit!
In a subsequent article we shall be elaborating on the details, the components and proofs of this Replacement Theology.