Does Replacement Make Sense?

I was speaking to a group of people about the Jewish people in  the heart of God.  Someone raised a question about Replacement Theology; specifically, the view that when Yeshua came, the Jewish people were in a sense, demoted from being God’s covenant people to the level of the other nations, that now we were no different from any other nation, and that now the Church was the “New Israel,”or new people of God.

Apart from the obvious problem of this being an entirely self-serving view that the church was congratulating itself with, I pointed out that it didn’t make sense.  In the Torah, God calls Israel His child.  In Exodus 4:22-23, God says, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.  So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me.”  I asked the people in the seminar how many of them had children.  Most people raised their hands.  I asked them how many of them had more than one child.  Most of those raised their hands.  I asked them this question:  “When you had your second child, what did you do with the first child?”  People looked puzzled.  I asked if they put the first child out on the street, or dropped the first child off at an orphanage, or maybe sold the first child to someone else.   People laughed at the absurdity of the question.

I told them that when my daughter Sara was born, I looked at her, a beautiful baby, perfect in my eyes, “Kina Hora.”  I loved her from the first minute I saw her, and all my hopes and dreams for good rested on her.  I could not imagine that I could ever love another child as much as I loved her.  Four years later, my son Marcus was born.  Before he was born, I wondered how I could love another child as much as I loved Sara.  Then God did something wonderful.  He opened my heart and expanded its capacity so that I could love my son as much as I loved my daughter.  All my hopes and dreams for good rested on my son as well as my daughter. My children are different, and I love them with their differences.

I am only human, and therefore, if I am capable of loving my second child as much as my first child, how much more is God able to love the Jewish people as well as the people in the Church with the same love?  Israel and the Church are different, yet God loves both his children as a parent loves His children.  God did not have to reject his Firstborn, Israel, in order to love the Church.  He is more than capable of loving both, with our differences, appreciating the specialness of each child.

Pope John Paul II referred to the Jewish people as “Our older brother in faith.”  He understood that even though we are different in many ways, we have the same father.   The meaning of this is clear.  Both Israel and the Church are called to be people blessing God.  How do children bless their parents?  Not by standing up and blessing them, only to go back to their normal activities.  When children are young, they fight, they struggle together in what we call sibling rivalry.

When my children were young, they fought constantly.  My son learned to fight by fighting with his sister.  When they got older, they learned to get along, and not only cease fighting, but moved on to getting along with each other and learning to love one another.  Nothing blesses a parent more than when his children get along with each other and love one another.  I believe this is true for God as well.  He wants His children to love one another and stand up for each other.  Psalm 133:1 says, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”  If we truly wish to bless the heart of God, then we, both Israel and the Church, will find a way to make this happen.  As Paul wrote in Galatians 6:16, “And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”

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9 thoughts on “Does Replacement Make Sense?

  1. Hi Michael,

    Replacement theology has actually softened somewhat since it’s heyday leading up to the Crusades. In those days, “replacement” was taken seriously–the Crusades arose from the militaristic ideology that was part and parcel of “replacement” — the Land belonged to the Church and Christians occupied it for centuries. They could not tolerate displacement by the Muslims.

    Of course, Christians don’t remember this. After centuries without the Land, its significance has been lost. But the underlying ideology remains. Although replacement theology may have anti-Semitic implications, it is primarily imperialistic and spiritually militaristic against everyone it perceives as “the unsaved”. (Obviously there are happy exceptions to this.)

    In order for Christians as a whole to live as brothers with Jews (and everyone, really), they will have to abandon some dearly-held beliefs. This is a humbling, a stripping away of status and privilege that God requires of the powerful (or those who perceived themselves as powerful).in order to live in shalom in the human family.

    May it happen soon, in our day.

    • Carl,

      In what way has it softened other than a cessation of physical violence, which I do applaud, I don’t see it? When I speak to some of those who hold to Replacement theology, they are almost rabid in their views. The real danger I see, is that if they feel we have been replaced, we are without value in their eyes, and subject to whatever the world wants to inflict upon us.

      • My use of “softened” didn’t refer to the rabid and aggressive stance of replacement theology but exactly the (general) cessation of organized physical violence.

      • of course, I agree. What I worry about, is that violence is always a future possibility. The fact that a violence unparalleled in modern history could arise in 20th century Germany, an educated, cultured people, makes me worry that its always a possibility where humans are involved.

  2. Pingback: Does Replacement Make Sense? (via Drschiffman’s Blog) « The Return of Benjamin

  3. Hi Michael,

    I really enjoyed this post and agree wholeheartedly. It glorifies God when his children love one another just as it blesses an earthly parent. It is commendable to acknowledge that replacement theology would be limiting God’s ability who have love for different people, like a first born, second born, etc etc.

    Most people fight over the inheritance of earthly parents, but I don’t think God is in short supply for those that would, “Love the Lord their God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their mind, and all their strength.”

    I do not think that we have any other purpose except to honor and glorify God and if we Love God then we will search to know his standards and what things please and honor him.

    As one of Yeshua’s first teachings, “Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called Sons of God.” Forgiveness of grievances is something necessitated by the recognition of God’s grace for us. I think it is difficult to be a peacemaker if we spend too much energy holding onto past transgressions rather then “Loving our enemies, and praying for those that persecute us.”

  4. Dr. Schiffman

    I really enjoyed this article. I thought it was a very wise and compassionate piece. I am continually saddened by fellow believers who mistakenly believe that the Church has taken the place of Israel. This was very encouraging.

  5. Pingback: Covenants And Promises « What about God?

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