By Ludwig Schneider, Israel Today
There is only night or day. Everything else, whether dawn or twilight, leans towards either day or night. The same thing applies to our attitude toward Israel. We either bless Israel or we curse it (Numbers 24:9). It is not possible to be indifferent toward Israel.
In other words, there are just two camps. One teaches that God has abandoned the nation of Israel and set up the Church in its place. This is known as Replacement Theology. The other says that God will never abandon His people Israel. Both camps cite the Bible, but the former ignores the context.
For example, opponents of Israel refer to Jeremiah 7:29: “The Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath.” The rejection of Israel was an issue even in the prophet’s time, as God bemoans in Jeremiah 33:23-24: “Have you not observed what this people have spoken, saying, ‘The two families [Judah and Israel] which the Lord chose, He has rejected them?’”
Friends of Israel on the other hand quote Judges 2:1: “I brought you…into the land (Israel) which I have sworn to your fathers; and I said [or promised], ‘I will never break My covenant with you.’”
God confirms this in Jeremiah 31:37- 38: “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 the offspring of Israel for all that they have done.’”
The Bible is full of promises from God that He will not reject His people Israel, but also of warnings that He will reject Israel. Which is right? What is relevant for the times we are living in now?
The answer is in the timing—whether God has rejected Israel temporarily or permanently. The early Christians in Rome also had a problem with this issue, for Paul responds to the question as to whether God has rejected His people Israel with a clear, “May it never be!” (Romans 11:1). However, a few verses later, he writes that God has rejected His covenant people for a limited time through the “partial” hardening of their hearts. Why? So that during this period, salvation may come to the gentiles (11:25-29).
This rejection, however, is temporary; it will only last “until the fullness of the gentiles has come in”—i.e., until the full number of the chosen gentiles has entered the Church of God. Then “all Israel will be saved.” At that point, God’s permanent covenant with His people Israel will be restored. The bottom line: When God speaks of His rejection of Israel, this is only a temporary state.
Indeed, the “stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone” (Psalm 118:22). While Peter correctly interprets this as referring to Jesus (Acts 4:11), it also refers to the nation of Israel in the End Times.
Zechariah 8:23 clearly indicates that the Jewish people have not been permanently rejected and will still play a role in salvation history: “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew[!] saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”’” At this time Israel will move out of the state of temporary rejection and will once again, in the sight of the whole world, become God’s eternal covenant nation.
Whenever Israel was disobedient to God, He rejected His people for a period of time—temporarily—in order to reinstate them after they had repented. He has not rejected Israel forever, for “the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name” (1 Samuel 12:22).
The Lord also says: “I have chosen you and not rejected you” (Isaiah 41:9); “Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, nor will I so abhor them as to destroy them, breaking My covenant with them” (Leviticus 26:44). Here God confirms His eternal covenant with Israel, which was not annulled by His temporary rejection of the nation.
This is why He is leading Israel back again into the Land of the fathers; “and they will not again be rooted out from their land which I have given them” (Amos 9:15). Just as God keeps His oath regarding His people Israel, so He also keeps His word to the Christian household of faith.