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Has Israel been replaced by the church?

God made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants to give them the land of Israel. And even if they sinned, He would always bring them back. God is faithful to keep His promises. In fact, the Bible is a record of promises God has made and kept. This is where I’m going: the apostle Paul asked the question in Romans 11:1, “Has God cast away His people?” Then he answered it: “Certainly not!”

But some people would say that God has cast away His people. That’s the belief of amillennialism. Without getting too deep, amillennialists deny all the promises God gave to Israel, saying they were forfeited when Israel rejected Christ. Those promises, they say, are now fulfilled in the church, and the church has replaced Israel. God will not revive the nation literally.

Today, amillennialism is the view held by the Roman Catholic Church, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and many others. But I would say to them, respectfully, I disagree. This belief takes the text of Scripture and spiritualizes the meaning away by making it an allegory, especially the prophetic passages regarding the end times. But I interpret biblical texts plainly, literally, unless compelled by the text itself to interpret it otherwise.

The fact is, God has preserved the Jewish people and brought them back to the land. By right of creation, God owns the world. By right of selection, God owns the land of Israel. And He can give it to anybody He wants to. Well, He gave it to Abraham and his descendants: “For all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (Genesis 13:15). And it’s an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7). Sounds permanent to me. It doesn’t sound like God is going to replace them with the church.

Now, go back to Paul’s question: “Has God cast away His people?” No. He brought them back to the land after seventy years in Babylonian captivity and after the Romans caused a dispersion that lasted nearly 2,000 years. God has chastened them, sent them into captivity, and dispersed them. But He has not and will not cast them out.

One day, the Jewish people will recognize Jesus as their Messiah. What’s happening in the meantime? The church age, or the age of grace. Paul said, “Blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness”—literally, the full number—”of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25). God has a purpose in letting them experience this blindness. And the purpose is us.

So when this present age of grace has run its course, when that last Gentile, whoever he or she is somewhere in the world, says yes to Jesus, at that point, I believe the rapture will happen. So, share the gospel. Maybe you’ll tell that last person the good news of Jesus. Or, as I like to say, if you’re that last Gentile holding this show up, would you please surrender to the lordship of Jesus?

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