Israel and the Church: Does One Equal the Other?

I received the above chart from a friend of mine.  As you can see it equates Israel with the Church based upon various similarities.  Obviously, some of the similarities are legitimate.  However, similarity does not equal identity.  In other words, just because two things have many characteristics in common doesn’t mean that they are the same entity.  Israel and the Church is a case in point.

I want to begin by simply pointing out the ill-advised hermeneutic that has been employed in at least one of the similarities.  Number sixteen states that Christ is married to them (speaking of the nation Israel) and Christ is married to the Church also.  Notice that Christ being married to Israel is in italics.  That is because the Old Testament doesn’t teach that Christ is married to Israel but that Yahweh is.  Hosea 2:19 is not Messiah speaking but is Yahweh speaking to Old Testament Israel: “I will betroth you to Me forever.” (NASB)  However, this is just one issue.  Let’s get to the meat of the subject.

There are sixteen similarities in this chart, fifteen if you discount number sixteen.  Years ago Lewis Sperry Chafer illustrated twenty-four contrasts between Israel and the Church.  Perhaps they will help to make my point, which is that Israel and the Church are two separate entities created by God for His purposes.  Note: All of these are found in Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1948), IV:47-53.  Additional explanation and variation is found in Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Israelology (San Antonio: Ariel Ministries Press, 1989).  Granted not all of these are direct statements of Scripture but are easily seen in Scriptural revelation by simply examining the information Scripture provides.  The interesting thing about these observations is that they are all derived simply by a man and his Bible and a normal reading of Scripture. To put it another way, just as the doctrine of the Trinity is not overtly stated in one verse and must be deduced from the totality of Scripture’s teaching, these distinctions or contrasts between Israel and the Church must be discovered in the same manner.

It is my intention to discuss these twenty-four contrasts over our next two blog posts.  Enjoy.

1.) The extent of biblical revelation – Scripture is occupied with the subject of Israel in almost four-fifths of its pages whereas the Church is found in about one-fifth.

2.) The divine purpose – Every covenant promise for Israel deals with a land, a people, a future kingdom and a future king with future spiritual promises.  The focus is earthly.  The Church has heavenly promises, heavenly blessings and spiritual provisions.  As Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum points out, Israel’s primary purpose is not exclusively earthly since they are also destined to be in “the heavenly Jerusalem in the Eternal State” (Israelology, 47).  It is also seen in Scripture that the Church will have a major role on earth during the Millennium (Ibid).

3.) The seed of Abraham – the physical seed of Abraham is by natural generation.  The spiritual or heavenly seed of Abraham is entered into by the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit upon exercising faith in Christ.  Further, within the natural seed of Abraham is also a subset of the spiritual seed meaning that among those who are by physical birth the children of Abraham there are those who have placed their faith in Messiah and are identified as “the Israel of God” in Galatians 6:16.  They are those who are circumcised in their hearts not merely their flesh (Rom. 2:28).

4.) Birth – Physical Israelites are so through physical birth.  “Christians become what they are by spiritual birth” (48).

5.) Headship – “Abraham is the head of the Jewish race, and they are properly designated as ‘the seed of Abraham.’ . . .Over against this it may be said of Christians, though when magnifying the element of faith they are called ‘Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:29), God is their Father and by the Spirit they are joined to Christ and he, the resurrected Lord, is their new federal Head” (Ibid.).

6.) Covenants (Theology, 49) – “God ‘made unconditional covenants with His earthly people’ already and will in the future ‘make a new covenant with them when they enter their kingdom'” (Israelology, 424).  On the other hand the Church is now experiencing spiritual blessings based on the basis of Paul’s pronunciation that Christians are “blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

7.) Nationality – Israel belongs to the earth and to the world-system…Over against this…is the fact that the Church is composed of all nations, including Israel, and sustains no citizenship here, but instead the believers are strangers and pilgrims” (Theology, 49).

8.) Divine Dealing – In the past God dealt with nations as a whole, as He did with Israel, but in the present dispensation God’s dealings with humanity are on a strictly individual level.  This fact is unique to this dispensation.  As Fruchtenbaum summarizes, “…God dealt with Israel as a nation, but with the Church as individuals.” (Israelology, 424)

9.) Dispensations – Fruchtenbaum’s summary and clarification is excellent: “Israel is present in every dispensation since Abraham, including this one.  In contrast, according to Chafer, the Church is limited to the present dispensation.  However, most Dispensationalists today would add the next dispensation of the kingdom as also being a time when the Church will be present.” (Ibid., 425)

10.) Ministry – Israel was appointed to exercise an influence over the nations of the earth (cf. Ps. 67:1-7), and this she will yet do perfectly in the coming age; nevertheless there was no missionary undertaking and no gospel proclaimed. . . . She faced inward toward the tabernacle or temple . . . However, immediately upon her formation, the Church is constituted a foreign missionary society.  It is her obligation to face outward and to those of her company is given the task of evangelizing the people of the earth in each generation.” (Theology, 50)

11.) Relationship to the Death of Christ (Israelology, 50) – Israel, though sharing great responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ calling down the blood of Christ upon them and their children (Matt. 27:25) will yet be saved as a nation by means of that very sacrifice.  “On the other hand, a present and perfect salvation to the praise of God is the portion of the Church through the offering of the Lamb of God.” (Theology, 50)

12.) God the Father (Israelology, 50) – In the Old Testament God is identified as the Father of the nation of Israel, but never so identified in relation to each individual.  In the present dispensation God is identified as the Father of each individual believer in Christ (Rom. 8:14-15).

These are the first twelve of the twenty-four contrasts between Israel and the Church.  Those who have never had these distinctions pointed out to them, if you are one reading, there should be some light being shed upon the subject of the fact that Israel and

, purposes that may overlap and share similarities, but which are still separate and distinct.

We will look at the next twelve contrasts in my next post, unless something else comes up between now and then.

I pray this helps.

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “Israel and the Church: Does One Equal the Other?

  1. Pingback: Reflecting on God | KEVIN NUNEZ

  2. Pingback: Reflecting on God | KEVIN NUNEZ

  3. All the ‘contrasts and reasons’ assembled to fortify the heresy of Israel-Church Distinctionism are keyed to ignoring how the victorious, finished work of the Lord Jesus fulfilled “the hope of Israel.” Consequently, keeping the two words from consorting and intermingling requires a) removing the Christ-centeredness of the New Testament from the meaning of “Israel,” and b) removing the Christ-centeredness of the Old Testament from the meaning of the “Church.”

    Before introducing his own _12 Reasons Why Supersessionism / Replacement Theology Is Not a Biblical Doctrine_, Michael Vlach cites Charles Spurgeon (“I think we do not attach sufficient importance to the restoration of the Jews. We do not think enough of it. But certainly, if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this”), and Walter Kaiser (“To argue that God replaced Israel with the church is to depart from an enormous body of biblical evidence”).

    Spurgeon and Kaiser share your point, “that Israel and the Church are two separate entities created by God for His purposes.” Future, national Israel is assumed to be an Old Testament, ethnic entity untouched by the New Testament’s proclamation of the everlasting Gospel. This delusion, grounded in the dogma of Israel-Church distinction, assumes that what the Lord Jesus had accomplished during His ministry on earth, by His atoning death and in His glorious resurrection, had left Israel ‘unrestored’. The entire New Testament, and the letter to the Hebrews, in particular, confirm the very opposite. They celebrate the finality and the perfection of God’s work for Israel in His Son: “…let us [the Hebrews of Israel] run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 2:1,2).”
    Accordingly, “…if there is anything promised in the Bible it is this,” that the so-called “restoration of the Jews” is absolutely inseparable from individual conversion to Messiah Jesus who, as prophecy foretold, bore the Cross for His people at Calvary: “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high (Hebrews 1:1-3).”
    Hence, the heart of the “enormous body of biblical evidence” proclaims that God has completely fulfilled (not ‘replaced’) Israel in the Church Body of the Lord Jesus, “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence (Colossians 1:18).”
    In Messiah Jesus, “the restoration of the Jews” is an accomplished fact–unless one believes He did not perform God’s will for His Hebrew people: “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all (Hebrews 10:9,10).”
    To doubt whether God, in the Person and work of His Son, has restored and fulfilled Israel is to deny the Lord Jesus’ own teaching to His Jewish disciples: “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:44-47).
    Peter, subsequently, would cite Jewish scripture when referring to “…you, therefore, which believe…,” as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).”
    Truly, when the Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father, said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do (John 17:4),” His work spoke directly to “the restoration of the Jews.” His words. therefore, provide the single, undeniable reason why Israel-Church Distinctionism is not a biblical doctrine, but an expression of “the doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).”

    To doubt whether God, in the Person and work of His Son, has restored and fulfilled Israel is to deny the Lord Jesus’ own teaching to His Jewish disciples: “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:44-47).

    Peter, subsequently, would cite Jewish scripture when referring to “…you, therefore, which believe…,” as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light (1 Peter 2:9).”

    Truly, when the Lord Jesus, in His prayer to His Father, said, “I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do (John 17:4),” His work spoke directly to “the restoration of the Jews.” His words. therefore, provide the single, undeniable reason why Israel-Church Distinctionism is not a biblical doctrine, but an expression of “the doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).”

    • Mr. Gridd,

      I am deeply moved by your complete and utter misinterpretation of Scripture concerning this topic. First of all, you are dangerously close to placing yourself under God’s curse according to Genesis 12:3′ “And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse.” By denying what God has declared as the apple of His eye you, sir, are treading on dangerous ground. Genesis 17:7, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an EVERLASTING covenant, to be God to you and to your DESCENDANTS (plural) after you.”

      Secondly, I direct your attention to what God declares immediately following the promise of the New Covenant: “Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar; the Lord of hosts is His name; IF THIS FIXED ORDER DEPARTS FROM ME,” declares the LORD, “THEN THE OFFSPRING OF ISRAEL ALSO WILL CEASE FROM BEING A NATION BEFORE ME FOREVER”. Thus says the LORD, “If the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth searched out below, THEN I WILL ALSO CAST OFF ALL OF THE OFFSPRING OF ISRAEL FOR ALL THAT THEY HAVE DONE,” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 31:35-37.
      In other words, He is never going to cast Israel aside as a nation and they will always be His chosen people. There is no way to change the multiplicity of the “people” to mean Christ alone without employing a false hermeneutic and spiritualizing/allegorizing of Scripture.

      If I seem severe in my tone please forgive me. I take the word of God and His promises and warnings very seriously.

  4. You are forgiven for personal animus resulting from a threat to your Scofield/Darby vision of Israel, but you can’t be forgiven for, in fact, NOT taking “the word of God and His promises and warnings very seriously.” You made no attempt, whatsoever, to engage the scriptures presented. They were irrelevant because Distinctionist ideology had been violated. The scriptures themselves had transgressed against the dogma of the invincible permanence of the Jewish state and the inherent sanctity of all its inhabitants.

    This explains your knee-jerk use of Genesis 12:3 to warn me (“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”). You presume that Abraham fathered a purely ethnic line of Jews (see Matthew 3:9) whose fleshly identity remains in everlasting contrast to the Body of Christ Jesus–”the King of Israel.” Abraham is projected as the “father” of the current, unbelieving nation-state of Israel, but his role as the progenitor of the “seed which is Christ,” and as the father of all global “children of promise” is lost on your philo-semitic outrage.

    Your ethno-nationalist view of Jeremiah 31:35-37, moreover, has no connection whatsoever with “Abraham and his seed (see Galatians 3:16). The “great nation” proceeding from Abraham is not a racial-cultural collective viciously opposed to the Gospel. It is the “chosen generation, …royal priesthood, …holy nation, …peculiar people,” celebrated in Peter’s epistle (1 Peter 2:9).

    The full and final significance of Genesis 12:3 points directly to Paul’s exposition to the Church in Galatians 3: “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham (vs. 7-9)…..There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abrahams seed, and heirs according to the promise (vs. 28,29).”

    Clearly, your loyalty to an anti-Christian “Israel” in the Middle East exceeds your love for the scriptures extolling the Lord Jesus’ magnificent, finished work for “the Israel of God.”

    For you, then, a far more urgent and crucial warning than Genesis12:3 is found in Paul’s letter to Galatian Christians: “As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed (Galatians 1:9).” His reference to “…some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ,” mirrors his caution to Colossian believers: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ (Colossians 2:8).” What could be more perverse than to replace the Gospel of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” with ‘another gospel of Israel and her resuscitated’. Again, the Hebrews letter portrays an Israel restored, absolutely, and “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.the Son (Hebrews 12:2).”

    Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit when he prophesied, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people…(Luke 1:68).” He was not referring to the United Nations Organization’s midwifing of a geopolitical entity in 1948, but to the approaching birth, in Bethlehem, of Israel’s Redeemer-Savior.

    • Your response is ample evidence of why I didn’t deal with the passages you used for your previous point. You will not be convinced that you are grossly misinterpreting Scripture. When God says forever it means forever.

      If you would pay attention to how you are interpreting Galatians 3:28 then you must also say that slavery is ok and there is no legitimate prohibition against homosexuality. If there is no male or female then there can be no homosexuality. Is that what Paul meant?

      I will not take valuable time to argue with you concerning this. You will not be changed by my words and the way you handle Scripture will not allow you to let the Word change your mind.

      I pray the Lord will get through to you.

      Farewell.

      • Amen brother. Save your breath. I’ve had conflicting thoughts about my church which believes in “replacement theology”. Not 100% sure if I should remain or look for another church…..

      • Thanks for reading. It is quite a predicament in which you find yourself. I can’t tell what to do, but I couldn’t remain in such a situation. God will give you wisdom to make the correct decision. God bless.

  5. I’m in total agreement with you B. A, Gridd. But as you can well see, it is quite amazing as to the stubbornness of people that have been indoctrinated into a man’s ideology and total misrepresentation of Scripture (Scofield/Darby vision of Israel) and all of dispensationalists. But I’m never surprised, as I have learned throughout my 35 years as a believer, that as soon as Reformed Theology/Calvinist, share their views regarding, the church, Israel, 5 points, T.U.L.I.P… the words like “replacement theology”, “God’s curse”,… Scriptures pertaining to unbelievers, heretics… are thrown around, without any reservations. And clearly you have hit the nail right on the head, when you said; “Clearly, your loyalty to an anti-Christian “Israel” in the Middle East exceeds your love for the scriptures extolling the Lord Jesus’ magnificent, finished work for “the Israel of God.”

    God’s Sovereignty, God’s Elect, One People

    So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

    “The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone,”and
    “A stone of stumbling,
    and a rock of offense.”

    They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:7-10)

    (vv. 9,10) Peter’s language in these verses, applying the Old Testament terms for Israel to the church, asserts the continuity between the Old Testament Israel and the New Testament Church, representing them as the one people of God, not a separate entity, with two separate plans, one for Israel and the church.

    As Peter explains to us in detail as to who we are, (but you v.9) this marks the sharp contrast between the destiny of unbelievers (v.8) and the status of the elect. The theme of God’s sovereign choice of both Christ and the church is prominent in this passage (vv.6,9) (RSB-ESV)

    • Dispensationalism is the product of the consistent use of a normal literal historical-grammatical hermeneutic, a practice that reformed covenant theologians have and still fail to practice. It is the allegorical/spiritual hermeneutic that the reformed covenant class has used and uses that enables the rejection of the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture.

      I believe it was John Walvoord that said you can’t become a liberal by using the Dispensational form of hermeneutics.

  6. And for all these centuries of debates, divisions, Arminianism, Reformation … within the church and all we had to do, was just wait for you to clarify it all for us. The Reformation is indebted for your contribution, in clearing the pathway to Nirvana. Reformers in heaven and Theologians worldwide are celebrating. They should all be getting the memo real soon.

    “The most effective poison to lead us to ruin is to boast in ourselves, in our own wisdom and willpower” ~John Calvin

  7. At least my comments, as condescending as they may be, are not clocked in some sort of intellectual jargon, in trying to present ones position, while looking down their noses. I’m pretty sure that the Reformers would be able to defend their position very nicely, even as they lay in their graves. They have done a very nice job for the last 1600 plus years. I’ll give you a head start, if you are willing Steve Spurlin PhD. 😉 Just remember, you never know who might show up, in our conversations.

    • Wow! I’ve tried to be kind in responding to you, but you not only have no grace in your speech, you also sound threatening. I’ve heard about trolls on twitter but I didn’t realize there are those who call themselves Christian and act like liberal trolls. Kindly leave my blog and don’t read it if you intend to continue this type of interaction.

  8. I guess that would be a no. “no grace in your speech” “threatening” “troll”, you forgot heretic. I stand corrected as people as yourself have absolutely nothing else to say when defending your position and only revert to names and all sorts of disparaging remarks. I never knew that some people would be this afraid of a bunch of dead guys.

  9. Sheesh! What’s with all the hate comments! Man, some people just cant stand the fact that THEY’RE NOT JEWISH. Not spiritual Jews or fleshly Jews.

    Jesus said I will make them of the synagogue of Satan which say they are Jews and are not. The Church is not Israel. God didn’t cast of His own. These people need to pick up a Bible a read Romans 11.

    Good post. God bless.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s