The Balfour Declaration

The Balfour Declaration

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Tomorrow the United Kingdom and Israel, and many more people all around the world, will celebrate the issuing of the Balfour Declaration on the 2nd November 1917. This declaration undoubtedly paved the way for the establishment of the modern day state of Israel in 1948 and so consequently some have called it Israel’s birth certificate. The Balfour Declaration came about because of a process, wrought by God Himself, whereby great Christian leaders of Britain, over a period of some two hundred and fifty years, had not only by their preaching brought millions into the Kingdom of God but they had also prophetically spoken of the soon coming restoration of the Jews to their ancient homeland. Their voice had reached into the very halls of British political power and consequently when Chaim Weizmann requested that Britain should look favorably upon the establishment of a Jewish homeland in what was then known as Palestine the response was positive.

There are of course some Christians, who will not be celebrating tomorrow because they have fallen victim to the theological error of Replacement Theology. They see absolutely no biblical significance in the Balfour Declaration and the restoration of Israel and in fact greatly lament these things. In this they are certainly allies with all those who seek to dismantle the Jewish State. For them the great Christian leaders, who paved the way for this declaration to be issued, were deceived! In this regard they are speaking about:

  • John and Charles Wesley
  • Bishop Ryle
  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon
  • Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Now just think of it: These four mighty preachers, who led multiple thousands to Christ and who greatly impacted all the corners of the world, were in fact given to deception when they proclaimed the biblical truth of Israel’s coming national restoration! I think not. They knew full well that God is faithful to His promises made to the Jewish people in the Abrahamic Covenant, which promises He has never altered or reneged on, and that when He said the land of Canaan would be given to the Jews as an everlasting possession He meant it (Genesis 17:7-8). These “nay sayers” assert that Israel’s many sins have disinherited her of these promises and now they are a forsaken people as regards their national destiny. They are wrong, indeed very wrong because the Prophet Jeremiah states:

“For Israel is not forsaken, nor Judah, by His God, the Lord of hosts, though their land was filled with sin. -Jeremiah 51:5

The God of the Bible has corrected and judged His people Israel but He has never forsaken them and withdrawn His promises to them. He will honor all that He has said in His word and the Balfour Declaration is evidence of this. The God of the Bible acts in history through godly men that will pursue His purpose for their generation (Acts 13:36) and this is precisely why the Balfour Declaration was forthcoming. We rightly then rejoice in it for herein we do see the goodness and faithfulness of God. May God be praised!

Malcolm Hedding.

Yom Kippur / September 27

Yom Kippur / September 27

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                        “So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place,

                         because of the uncleanness of the children of

                         Israel, and because of their transgressions, for

                         all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabern-

                         acle of meeting which remains among them in

                         the midst of their uncleanness.”

                                                            Leviticus 16:16

 

                        “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost

                         those who come to God through Him, since He

                         always lives to make intercession for them. For

                         such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy,

                         harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and

                         has become higher than the heavens…”

                                                            Hebrews 7:25-26

 

Yom Kippur is the Great Day of Atonement. It is an awesome day in which nothing moves, cities and their commerce come to a complete standstill in Israel and even the roads, just the day before congested and given to gridlock, are empty. It’s as if all of creation is holding its breath since this is the Day when sinners, living under the wrath of God, can be freed from it. It requires introspection, fasting and prayer and the courage to acknowledge one’s sins and cast one’s self upon the grace of God. Only God’s unmerited favor can save us from His anger and a lost eternity.

In days of old the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies on this day and there before the Mercy Seat on the Ark present the blood of the Lord’s Goat.  Around his one foot a rope was tied in case He was struck down dead and thus could be pulled out. On the fringe of his High Priestly garments were little bells, which used to tinkle together when the atoning sacrifice was accepted because the power of God’s anointing and love would come upon him. It was a sound of joy and the whole nation would listen intently for it. If heard they knew that their sins were again overlooked (Romans 3:23-25)(Acts 17:30) and not attributed to them. They were free from the wrath of God!

The Scapegoat was at the same time brought before the High Priest who confessed the sins of the nation over it and then sent it away into the wilderness. This goat was called the Azazel, which also means “The one who opposes.” So, the Scapegoat not only carried the sins of the people away into the wilderness of forgetfulness but it also symbolized release from the Devil and his demons. What an amazing picture of God’s perfect deliverance in Christ Jesus.

The Day of Yom Kippur reminds us of the gravity of sin, the great price that Jesus paid to release us from its grip and the joy of being reconciled to God. The Scapegoat also symbolizes our complete deliverance from inbred sin and from the Devil. This is exactly what Jesus came to do (Acts 10:38). This is a Day that reminds us of God’s mercy and love and just how undeserving of these we are. It teaches us to fear God and live righteously before Him since Jesus, taking our place on the cross, spilt His blood to save us from the wrath of God (1 Thessalonians 1:10). A great price was paid for our redemption and we should never forget it (1 Peter 1:18-19). This is precisely why we take the sacrament of Communion regularly. We surely must remember what Jesus did for us on the cross and thus Yom Kippur is an awesome reminder of the reverence we should hold in our hearts for it.

Malcolm Hedding.

The Ten Days of Awe / September 27

The Ten Days of Awe / September 27

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                        “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘In the seventh

                         month, on the first day of the month, you shall have a

                         Sabbath-rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy

                         Convocation.”

                                                                        Leviticus 23:24

                         “On the tenth day of the seventh moth you shall have a

                         holy convocation….”

                                                                        Numbers 29:7

                         “I, therefore the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to

                         walk worthy of the calling with which you were called,

                         with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering,

                         bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep

                         the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

                                                                    Ephesians 4:1-3

 Between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Great Day of Atonement, there are ten days. These are meant to be days of personal reflection, repentance and prayer and they are to fill us with a healthy fear of God. Therefore they are called the Ten Days of Awe. Not only are we to awaken to righteousness and zeal as we hear the trumpet blast at Rosh Hashanah but we are also to think most seriously about our relationship with God and with one another.

The message of the Bible is about reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). That is, reconciliation with God and with our fellow man. Sin alienates and divides people and thereby births conflicts, wars, murders, outbursts of anger and all manner of hatred between people, families and races (Galatians 5:19-21). Those who come to God by faith in what He has done for them in Christ, the Messiah, have this cycle of alienation and hatred broken in their lives. For the people of God to live in schism and disunity constitutes a denial of the very essence of what it means to be a Christian (1 Corinthians 3:1-4). This should not happen and we should do everything to preserve the unity of the body of Christ. In the end contentious people should be rejected and removed from the community of faith after having been appropriately warned (Titus 3:10). All of this dear friends is very serious business and we would do well to think deeply about it.

When living in Jerusalem a very dear friend of mine, and a beloved Rabbi of blessed memory, asked to see me during the Ten Days of Awe. He had promised to do something for me and had forgotten. While praying and reflecting upon his life he was convicted of this and felt that he had to ask my forgiveness and so it was that he came to my office and apologized for his lapse in memory, asked for my forgiveness and promised to rectify the matter; which he did. I was greatly moved by this and cannot help but wonder what would happen to the body of Christ if we all acted in this way. The Ten Days of Awe therefore enable us to take hold of the grace of God and to be the people that Jesus wants us to be (Ephesians 4:31-32). Five is the number of grace in the bible and so the Ten Days of Awe, two fives, remind us of the amazing, blessed and abundant grace of God that has come to our lives by Christ Jesus. We need to think about this and respond appropriately. This period reminds us of these wonderful tings and challenges us to be all that God, by Christ Jesus, wants us to be.

Indeed the Ten Days of Awe help us to focus on what it means to truly be a child of God; just as Passover or Easter enable us to see more clearly what Jesus did for us on the cross. We need these times to refresh our souls and draw closer to God.

Malcolm Hedding

Days of Celebration – September 19th

Days of Celebration – September 19th

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                                ‘On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried

                                 out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

                                                                                John 7:37

 

                                “Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump,

                                 since you are truly unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover,

                                 was sacrificed for us.

                                “Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the

                                 leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread

                                 of sincerity and truth.”

                                                                                1 Corinthians 5:7-8

 

We are approaching that time of the year when the Jewish World will again celebrate the Feasts of the Lord in that the High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles are about to transpire. So, we need to ask ourselves, yet again, why should we celebrate these biblical festivals? The answer is simple; because they reflect more completely the life, ministry and death of Jesus! Jesus Himself celebrated Passover, Shavuot and the Feast of Tabernacles but He put the significance of His death, resurrection and coming kingdom into them. He even celebrated the non-biblical Feast of Hanukkah. It is important to note that we enjoy these as celebrations and not as obligations. Surely, after years of attending Church and reading the Bible regularly, we know the meaning and important truths lying behind each of these biblical feasts and memorials? The real answer is; no we do not; as we forget so easily and therefore we drift from God, lose sight of His love and grace, and disconnect ourselves from His purpose in the world. We live for ourselves, serve mammon and no longer know how to love those around us. The cycles of Biblical celebration, that God gives us, are for our renewal. This can be understood in the following ways:

 

Renewal of the Biblical truth that they so powerfully convey.

Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles are rich in instruction. They remind us that we are accountable to God, that we depend upon His atoning grace for our deliverance and that we are to rejoice in the knowledge that we are part of His kingdom. As Christians we remember that Paul stated in his letter to the Church at Rome that when we no longer give God thanks in all these things, we stray from Him and turn aside to foolishness (Romans 1:21). Our world abundantly demonstrates this. We need to be constantly renewed and therefore reminded of who God is and what He has done for us. Such is the state of our hearts that failure to remember His goodness is the highway to forgetfulness and this in turn leads to weakness, corruption and apathy in our lives. A faith that is lukewarm and unresponsive to God is not acceptable to Him and is thus rejected (Revelation 3:16). Yes, indeed, we need the biblical Feasts to remind us constantly of the goodness of God.

 

Renewal of the Young amongst us.

The Bible repeatedly teaches us to take special care of the children. Jesus echoed the same truth when He placed a child on His lap and blessed him. In fact He attributed greatness to children because their faith was so innocent and trusting (Matthew 18:1-5). To harm them is to attract the extreme displeasure of their Father in Heaven (Matthew 18:6). In addition the last book of Moses, called Deuteronomy, exhorts parents to instruct their children in their homes concerning the great themes of who God is and what He has done for us and requires from us (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). A child, according to the book of Proverbs, is like a tender “creeping plant” that can be trained in the way in which he or she should go. This requires love, affection, correction and discipline. Most of all it requires from Parents that they should teach by example! The Word of God does not call people sheep for nothing (Isaiah 53:6). Sheep follow easily and parents who do not “walk the life that they talk” are teaching their children how to fail God in life and consequently they will not have success in the things that really matter.

 

Renewal of Community life

All the Biblical festivals are community celebrations. We celebrate them with the people of God. Too much of Christianity today is self centered and contradicts Paul’s frequent exhortations to relate in different ways to one another (Ephesians 4:25-32). Interacting with the family of God teaches us a lot about patience, faithfulness, submission and love. All of these are imparted to our lives when we have do things that others want us to do and we don’t really want to! Living in community is not easy but it is God’s plan for us.

 

Passover, Pentecost, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles teach us to fear God, walk in His grace and power and be joyful. Paul said that, “The Kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit”(Romans 14:17).  Passover reminds us of the “door” to the Kingdom of God, which is the blood of the Lamb. Pentecost reminds us that the power of the Kingdom of God is the Word and Spirit of God and Rosh Hashanah reminds us of God’s holy command to be pleasing to Him and like Him. Yom Kippur, of the only way to have peace with God through His atoning love and grace and the Feast of Tabernacles of the fact that God wants His people to have life and joy in abundance. God’s people should have a lot of fun!

 

The community of God is to experience these things together. Again I want to affirm that the great Feasts of the Bible are celebrations and not obligations! We explore their meaning and significance together and thereby learn how to better love God, one another and the world. We are the poorer spiritually for neglecting them.

 

Renewal of appreciation for Israel and the Jewish people.

The great Feasts of the Bible enable Christians to understand more fully the Jewish roots of their faith and thus they learn to appreciate the people of Israel and understand that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), that all the things we hold dear as Christians are Jewish (Romans 9:1-5) and that we serve a Jewish King (Revelation 5:5) (Revelation 19:16)! In short, we share in the spiritual things that belong to the Jews and thus we are indebted to them (Romans 15:27). This takes on an important significance when we realize that Israel’s modern day restoration is the fulfillment of God’s eternal promise to Abraham and therefore, in the not too distant future, Israel will welcome her Messiah and thereby usher in for the world a time of unparalleled peace and joy. This will be the ultimate fulfillment of the Feast of Tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16-19).

 

Even so Lord Jesus come!

 

Malcolm Hedding

Rosh Hashanah – September 19th

Rosh Hashanah – September 19th

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                        “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, speak to

                         the children of Israel, saying, ‘In the seventh month,

                         on the first day of the month, you shall have a Sabbath

                         rest, a memorial of blowing trumpets, a holy convo-

                         cation.”

                                                                        Leviticus 23:23-24

 

                        “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of

                         Christ, that each one may receive the things done in

                         the body, according to what he has done, whether

                         good or bad.”

 

                                                                        2 Corinthians 5:10

 

 

Rosh Hashanah, the head of the year, is the Jewish New Year and as such is a proscribed biblical celebration. It is also known as the Feast of Trumpets because it constitutes a clarion call to the believers to take stock of their lives always remembering that God Himself is weighing them in His scales to determine how pleasing they are to Him. If we live for Him, in all that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31), we shall have a sweet year and so at this annual celebration apples and honey are eaten in the hope that we will all have a good inscription or assessment. Paul echoed the same sentiments when he stated that we should make it our constant aim to be pleasing unto the Lord (Colossians 1:10) (Hebrews 13:20-21).

 

There is no doubt that believers who are not pleasing to the Lord have limitations put on their lives and actions. For instance Paul says that if we live lives that are not clean and holy and consistent with what Jesus did for us on the cross and then, we take Communion without making the appropriate corrections, we can bring weakness, sickness and even death to our lives (1 Corinthians 11:23-31)! We are thus called upon to carefully examine or judge ourselves before sharing in the Lord’s Supper. This is the meaning and message of Rosh Hashanah and we would do well to embrace it. Of course this is not about works in terms of salvation but about the love for Christ that should flow out of our lives because of His death, burial and resurrection on our behalf. Jesus Himself stated that He cannot endure lukewarm Christians and that those Christians who are in this state should make some hard decisions (Revelation 3:16). Repentance is the only remedy!

 

Rosh Hashanah is therefore followed by the Ten Days of Awe wherein the believer should embrace with joy the blessedness of repentance. That is, godly repentance that truly and joyfully turns him away from everything that displeases God in his life (2 Corinthians 7:10). Paul writes in his Ephesian letter that Christ followers should awaken from their spiritual sleep and eagerly embrace the blessings of God (Ephesians 5:13-15). We should all heed these exhortations because it is so easy to slip into a spiritual routine that can make us deaf to the voice and presence of God.

 

Rosh Hashanah is therefore also a picture of that great final Day of Judgment that awaits all of us for we shall all stand before God one day to give an account of our lives (Romans 14:10-12). On that Day we shall not be able to hide anything or make any excuses since everything about us will be laid bare before Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. That Day will determine our place of standing in heaven and we should all live our lives in the light of it. Rosh Hashanah is a timely reminder of all these things and we should heed its message. May you have a good inscription!

 

Shana Tova,

Malcolm Hedding

Watch and Pray / September 12th

Watch and Pray / September 12th

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                        “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be

                         serious and watchful in your prayers.”

                                                                        1 Peter 4:7

 

                        “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon,

                         and in the stars; and on earth distress of nations

                         with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring.”

                                                                        Luke 21:25

 The “mystery of iniquity”, about which the Bible has much to say (2 Thessalonians 2:7) is essentially an attempt by the powers of darkness to ultimately enslave the whole human race by eradicating or diluting the message of the true Church and by destroying Israel the visible reminder of God in the world (Psalm 83:1-8). To a certain and indeed terrifying degree the powers of darkness will almost achieve their goal by the fact that a super human being will arise who will solve the world’s growing problems. His solution will outlaw Christianity as we know it, harness the global financial systems and regulate the possession of weapons by the imposition of global government (Revelation 13:1-3). In short a new world order will be ushered in that will put mankind at the center of all things, banish the unseen God and instead install a visible god who will receive the adulation and worship of the world (Revelation 13:8). Great celebrations will be held across world heralding the arrival of peace; all the peoples of the world will rejoice (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

 

The drama unfolding across the world at present is a sure sign that the picture described above is drawing nigh to reality. The rise and proliferation of nuclear weapons, the volatile situation in the Middle East, the emergence of Russia as a renewed and weaponized super-power, the North Korean determination to provoke conflict, the spread of Islamic terror attacks across the globe and the hatred of Israel and of Jews everywhere is going to erupt in conflicts that will shake and scare the world. It is because of this that the nations of the world will willingly give up their sovereignty and demand world government. The Bible has warned us about all of this.

 

But God Himself has warned the world, not only through His word, but also by strange signs in the heavens and by natural disasters on earth. This has always been the manner in which the God of Israel seeks to get the attention of the world and to write these off as inconsequential is to be naïve and really biblically illiterate. It was God Himself who stated, in the very first book of the Bible, that the luminaries were put in place, not only to give light by day and night, but also to act as signs of God’s great works on the earth (Genesis 1:14). That is, works of blessing and of judgment as in the birth of Christ (Matthew 2:1-2) and the coming great Day of the Lord (Acts 2:17-21). So, while we should not become sensational and goofy about these things, it is true that the double Tetrads producing a blood moon over Israel at Passover and Succot for two years in a row mean something and the total eclipse of the sun on the 21st August over America also meant something as did the two hurricanes that have hit the country in quick succession and then there is the sign of Israel that will appear in the heavens shortly.

 

I truly believe that the message is clear:

 

  1. That the God of the Bible is calling His people to purify themselves and live lives of prayer and godliness (Ephesians 5:15-21).

 

  1. That the God of the Bible is calling the world to repentance as He is warning of more acts of judgment and of a great judgment to come (Revelation 16:8-9).

 

  1. That the God of the Bible is drawing attention to Israel as the custodians of the Word of God and as the platform for the soon return of the Messiah (Romans 3:1-2; Acts 1:11).

 

  1. That the God of the Bible is seeking to mobilize His Church to preach the Gospel everywhere, as never before, because the hour is coming, of such darkness and persecution, wherein no one will be able to work (minister) (Matthew 28:18-20; John 9:4).

 

My friends, these things are real and, while scoffers will mock and discount them even from within the church, we must discern the times we are living in (Matthew 16:1-3) and watch and pray as Jesus taught us to (Mark 13:33-37) (2 Peter 3:1-7). Do not bury your head in the sand and ignore the warning signs all around you; warning signs on the earth and in the heavens. The people in Noah’s day laughed at him and ignored him, writing him off as a goofball but they were wrong and he was right. Jesus said, “As it was in the days of Noah so will it be in the days of the coming of the Son of Man (Matthew 24:36-39).” We discount God’s acts around us to our peril. I say again; watch and pray!

Malcolm Hedding

Biblical Community – Week 32 / August 7th

Biblical Community – Week 32 / August 7th

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“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing
that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease
teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”
Acts 5:41-42

The Bible is clear about the fact that the people of God are a Kingdom under the dominion of God Himself. In the Hebrew Scriptures this took the form of a theocracy. The nation was to be a holy nation, separate from all other nations and regulated by a priesthood and sacrificial system. In the New Covenant this changes as all nations are called into the household of faith and they are to be part of a gathering of believers called the ecclesia or “called out ones”. The temple is now not brick and mortar but people who have embraced Jesus’ once for all sacrifice on the cross (Ephesians 2:19-22).

Their main purpose in life is twofold:
1. To be conformed to the image of Christ….and,
2. To be witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection in the world.
Their social interaction is transformed by the power of the indwelling Savior, which in turn means that they love and care for one another. Their mutual life together has no set structure other than that they should gather regularly for the prayers (meaning many prayer meetings), bible study, breaking of bread and fellowship (Acts 2:42). This they can do in a building especially built for this purpose or they can gather in a private dwelling. Paul for instance, at one time, held meetings in a school hall (Ephesians 19:9). However, no matter how they gather their “body life” should and must be “set in order” (Titus 1:5). This means that they are under the spiritual protection of ordained elders and gift ministries designated as Apostles, Prophets, Teachers, Evangelists and Teachers (Ephesians 4:11).

The Church in every generation is subject to pressure and persecution. This may, as it did in the book of Acts, drive them together for survival purposes to live in closer proximity. That is, in shared housing of some type. The early church in Jerusalem was forced to do this (Acts 4:32-37) but elsewhere, as it took root, it structured itself differently. The style of housing is not important! Rather the purity of essential doctrine and preservation of the believing community is. It is true that a Church in persecution and living in shared housing is more holy but it is equally true that a Church living in shared housing and or in community, but free from persecution, can end up in cultic and controlling behavior. Both of these insights are worth nothing.

What matters is not the housing style but the preservation of the life and witness to Jesus. Some huge Churches, housed in big buildings, are a great blessing filled with God’s life. This we cannot deny. On the other hand, as in China, the Church has grown and multiplied in homes. Its very existence was dependent upon it. In all aspects the rule of thumb is that we should not neglect our gathering together (Hebrews 10:23-25) and we should assemble with those who uphold biblical faith and office. A Church, so called, in a house without ordained leadership is as much a problem and a contradiction as a Church in a fancy building without properly ordained leadership. Both problems exist. A Church “housed together” is a shelter from the storm but it could also be a breeding ground for manipulation and brain washing. Our calling is to read the signs of the times around us and structure the Body of Christ in a manner that enables the people of God to worship freely, be conformed to the image of Christ and bear testimony to the good news of Jesus in the world.
Malcolm Hedding.

Days of Deliverance – Week 28 / July 7

Days of Deliverance – Week 28 / July 7

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“ Blessed be the Lord, Who has not given us as prey
to their teeth. Our soul has escaped as a bird from
the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we
have escaped. Our help is in the name of the Lord Who
made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 124:6-8

There is no doubt that the context of this Psalm has to do with Israel’s deliverance from her enemies. The Psalmist affirms that the God of Israel is “on our side when men rose up against us (V2).” Not much has changed since David’s time and today Israel is once again in the “gun-sights” of her enemies. This brings the restored nation to daily vigilance but, while this is necessary, the truth is God watches over Israel to defend and protect her. Her modern history is testimony to this.

Israel’s God is deeply concerned about her spiritual condition and well being and so He allows Israel to go through trials and conflicts in the hope that she will by them hear His voice, repent and return to Him. This was ever so and we see it today as well since the God we serve is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He will yet deliver Israel from the teeth of her enemies but she will have to learn the lesson of Who He is and what He requires of her.

It is also true as a principle that we too are caught in the “cross-hairs” of those who hate God. Indeed Paul stated that anyone wishing to live a godly life in Christ will suffer persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). This pathway is unavoidable but by it we too are brought into better alignment with the will and purposes of God. Christians are not strangers to trials and difficulties and God, by Jesus Christ, will bring them through these so that they can give testimony to the fact that the have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers! Once escaped, like a bird, they will fly higher and therefore soar to greater heights in Christ.

I wish I could tell you that there is a different way but there is not. It is through many tribulations that we enter into the Kingdom of God (Acts 14:22) and so we need patience and endurance (James 1:2-3). God will help us, and always will, if we respond appropriately to Him. We should not look upon the present in all of this but upon the eternal future where we will reap an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

So, Israel is a living example to us of God’s faithfulness and we should not let discouragement pull us down. As David once did, strengthen yourself in the Lord since He will never leave or forsake you. After all He is the God that made heaven and earth.

Malcolm Hedding

Life in the Word and Spirit – Week 22 / May 28th

Life in the Word and Spirit – Week 22 / May 28th

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                                                “So now, brethren, I commend you to God

                                                 and to the word of His grace, which is able

                                                 to build you up and give you an inheritance

                                                 among all those who are sanctified.”

                                                                                                Acts 20:32

                                                “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father

                                                 upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem

                                                 until you are endued with power from on

                                                 high.”

                                                                                                Luke 24:49

 

 

Pentecost

In just a short a few weeks we will celebrate Shavuot or Pentecost which is one of the three great pilgrim festivals of the Bible, the others being Passover and Tabernacles. The Feast of Pentecost is a harvest festival plus it was on this Feast that the Torah (five books of Moses) or Word of the living God was given to Israel at Sinai, that is, fifty days after leaving Egypt, and it was on this same day that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the waiting Disciples in the Upper Room in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-4).

 

Pentecost is in every way a joyous celebration as it focuses on God’s “marriage” to Israel at Sinai for it is here at this holy mountain that the Lord God of Israel gives His people a Law that is rich in revelation and instruction and thereby galvanizes them into statehood. The journey of Israel in the wilderness to this climatic place and beyond is most interesting as, apart from the ritual pertaining to the priestly consecration, the focus falls upon; the pillar of cloud and of fire that hung over the camp in the wilderness; the ordination of the seventy elders; the provision of quail and the grace and power that brings forth the Temple of God or Wilderness Tabernacle.

 

The Pillar of Cloud and of Fire

The first of these, the pillar of cloud and of fire, reminds us of the heavenly call to be obedient. When the pillar was lifted, by day or by night, camp was struck and the Israelites went out to follow the cloud or fire and thereby they followed God Himself. Samuel reminds us that “obedience is better than sacrifice” (1Samuel 15:22-23) and the book of Acts tells us that God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey Him (Acts5:32).

 

 

The Ordination of the Seventy Elders

The ordination of the seventy elders (Numbers 11:16-17) places the biblical emphasis upon delegation and ability. The “seventy” could not function until the power of God’s Spirit was upon them. The message is clear; to obey without the means to obey is obedience “still born”. For this reason Jesus told His disciples not to leave Jerusalem until they were endued “with power from on high” (Luke24: 49)(Acts 1:8). Once again the message is clear; if we have the Word of God without the Power of God we shall dry up; if we have the Power of God without the Word of God we shall blow up. But, if we have the Word of God and the Power of God we shall grow up and serve the interests of God’s kingdom on earth! Without the power of the Holy Spirit we cannot go into the world and truly build Jesus’ Church.

 

The Quail

The Quail episode recorded in Numbers11: 31-35 is also interesting because God’s supernatural provision leads to an outburst of His anger. Anger because the Israelites gorged themselves and thus behaved as if God would not be in their future. A reminder of Who we serve and that we are stewards of His blessings. Having forgotten this they died and were buried at a place called “Hattaavah” meaning, “graves of the craving.” When we abuse God’s provision and abundance we die spiritually and lose our way. Many a Christian has died at Hattaavah because they have been too busy receiving and getting than serving and doing! The Church of Jesus is not a grandstand and should not be filled with spectators but with participators. This too is the abiding message of the Day of Pentecost recorded in Acts chapter two. The Disciples of Jesus were filled with the Spirit so as to go into all the world and serve.

 

The Power of the Holy Spirit

Lastly, Zechariah, the restoration Prophet, reminds us that all of God’s work is pursued through God’ ability. “Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord.” This power of God’s Spirit builds a Temple that is completed with shouts of grace (Zechariah 4: 6-7). All this also reminds us that spiritual life is sustained by corporate life. That is, we should worship together and we fail God when we forsake our assembling together (Hebrews 10:24-25). Certainly the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the first Christians in the upper room was a “together experience” (Acts1: 1). Only the Holy Spirit can give us real unity and order and so, when we claim to have His anointing but cannot live together with other believers in unity and love we contradict our claim. Pentecost birthed the Church and formed a people into a community of love no matter what their national, racial, status or gender differences were. When the Spirit came the confusion of tongues that began at Babel was reversed and the multitude heard them speaking as one in the tongues of men (Acts 2:5-12). The multitudes without Christ are ever waiting for the truth about God to be lived out before them and consequently they will respond, as they did on the Day of Pentecost, when the Church embraces and demonstrates this truth through the Word and Spirit of God.

 

Given all of the above it is clear that we have much to learn from the Festival of Pentecost.

 

Malcolm Hedding.

 

 

Pretextology

Pretextology

Blog

                           Dismantling Replacement Theology One Step At A  Time

 

                        “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars

                         in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land

                         I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.”

                                                                        Exodus 32:13

 

                        “The characteristics of Bishop Ryle’s method and style

                         are obvious. He is pre-eminently and always scriptural

                         and expository. He never starts with a theory into which

                         he tries to fit various scriptures. He always starts with

                         the Word and expounds it. It is exposition at its very

                         best and highest. It is always clear and logical and invar-

                         iably leads to a clear enunciation of doctrine. It is strong

                         virile and entirely free from the sentimentality that is

                         often described as ‘devotional.”

                                                                        Martin Lloyd-Jones

 

                        “I believe that the Jews shall ultimately be gathered again

                         as a separate nation, restored to their own land, and

                         converted to the faith of Christ…”

                                                                        Bishop Ryle of Liverpool

                                                                                    1816-1900

The Leaven of Error

 

There are certain teachings that have infiltrated the Church through the centuries, and even today are widely accepted, that have no biblical backing whatsoever. An example of this is the doctrine of infant baptism. There is not one verse in the entire Bible that validates this practice and yet it is practiced in many churches. This is just the truth and even the great Church Father Tertullian recognized this and condemned the dogma and practice as unbiblical.  In the same way the teaching of Replacement Theology, and for that matter Fulfillment Theology, is not found anywhere in the Bible. This doctrine, again widely accepted by many in the Church today, has no biblical backing whatsoever. It rests on the premise that the Abrahamic Covenant, which vouches safe Israel’s everlasting possession of the land of Canaan (Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 13:15-18; Psalm 105:7-12), has been adjusted or abolished and consequently Israel’s modern day restoration is debunked as having no biblical credentials. There is absolutely no statement in the entire Bible, and especially in the New Testament, that supports this notion; absolutely none! And yet many in the Church believe it. (4) See footnote

 

Those who claim this position put forth very weak arguments that constantly take scripture out of context and thereby distort it and turn it into a pretext. This is what I call “pretextology”. In other words pretextology is that teaching that, having no biblical basis, is imposed upon scripture.

 

Having said this, it must be acknowledged that pretextology or replacement theology has been embraced by segments of the wider Church because it does contain an element of truth in that, as we all do, it affirms that no one can obtain salvation apart from exercising faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross (John 14:6; Romans 1:16, Acts 4:12). It thereafter goes astray in that it seeks to undermine and deny the integrity and efficacy of the Abrahamic Covenant that bequeaths to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession; even though this Covenant is in all respects everlasting and was made by God with Abraham in such a way that it was unconditional. (5) See footnote. For pretextologists then, the modern day state of Israel is nothing more than an accident of history and thus holds no biblical significance.

 

The Abrahamic Covenant

 

So then, in terms of the Abrahamic Covenant; the Bible, always in context, vouches for its efficacy and integrity. These are bound up with the character of God so that if it fails or is adjusted or abolished in any way then God’s character is brought into question. That is, He is unfaithful and unreliable! This is a very serious accusation to place at God’s door but this is an accusation that exponents of Replacement Theology constantly make. It must be remembered that, while the Abrahamic Covenant has many aspects to it, it is essentially only one Covenant and therefore if one part fails all the parts fail. The same is true of the Mosaic Covenant or Ten Commandments; if you break one you have broken them all because it is one Covenant. (James 2:10-11) The aspects or clauses of the Abrahamic Covenant may be listed as the following:

 

  • God will make Israel a great nation,
  • God will bless Israel
  • God will make Israel a blessing,
  • God will curse those who curse Israel,
  • God will bless those who bless Israel,
  • God will give the nation of Israel the land of Canaan forever and,
  • God will give to the world a Savior or Seed who will save it from its sins.

(Genesis 12:1-3, Genesis 17:7-8, Genesis 22:18)

 

New Testament Validation of the Abrahamic Covenant

 

So, the context of Hebrews chapter six is that of Jewish believers in Jesus who were, for whatever reason, tempted to doubt the faithfulness of God to them as expressed in the New Covenant. The writer then assures them of God’s faithfulness by holding up before them His faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant. In other words they can trust God to fulfill all His promises to them in the New Covenant because He has kept and will keep all His promises made to them in the Abrahamic Covenant. These promises He made unconditionally to Abraham and swore to them by His word and character. He affirmed that they were everlasting and could then not be altered or revoked (Genesis 17:7-8; Romans 11:29). This, and this alone, is the contextual argument of the chapter; an argument that the writer makes years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials. Those discounting the promises made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant are actually accusing the writer of Hebrews of deception and God of lying since He has in reality abandoned crucial aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant and has in effect then not been faithful to it. This of course is not true!

 

“Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs

                         of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an

 oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible

                         for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have

                         fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.”

                                                                        Hebrews 6:17-18

 

The Galatian and Roman Letters in Context

 

So, the context of Galatians 3:16, as I recently pointed out in an earlier article, has to do with the conflict between Law and Grace that erupted in the early Church. Paul’s very strong argument is that 430 years before the Law was given at Sinai God promised in the Abrahamic Covenant that an individual would come (a Seed) and He would save the world from sin. In other words if He, the Seed, saves us by His finished work on the cross then the Law does not save anyone but it is our teacher to bring us to the Savior or Seed of promise (Galatians 3:24)(Romans 3:20). In context, Paul is not discussing the other aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant at all and indeed he tells us that he can appeal to the authority of this Covenant because as a whole it “cannot be annulled” (Galatians 3:17). Indeed Paul compares the Abrahamic Covenant to a human contract that is binding between two entities once it has been signed but affirms that the Abrahamic Covenant is more significant because it is bound to the character of God Himself. This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews does. But, our pretextologists contradict this by asserting, without any biblical grounds, that the other aspects of the Covenant have been annulled. Where did they get this from? From their own imaginations! They are attempting to impose a dogma on the Bible that doesn’t exist. They are pretextologists!

 

“Now to Abraham and his Seed (Jesus) were the promises

                         made. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as of many, but as of

                         one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ.”

                                                                        Galatians 3:16

 

Pretextologists further distort the meaning of Galatians 3:16 by falsely asserting from it that God in fact made no promises to the descendants of Abraham save the one that has to do with the coming of a “seed” or Messiah. In other words, they assert that 4000 years ago when God entered into a Covenant with Abraham He only promised them a Savior and nothing more! This is not only absurd but it is just plain nonsense for God did indeed also promise to the descendants (seeds) of Abraham that the land of Canaan would be their everlasting possession. A simple reading of scripture confirms it. Note: Genesis 13:14-18; Genesis 17:7-8 and Psalm 105:7-12. And, by the way, what is wrong with these people that they just cannot understand the word, “everlasting?”

 

So once more, if they cannot win the contextual argument then they “cherry pick” scriptures, again out of context, in order to debunk the promises of God in the Abrahamic Covenant. It is worth noting that without any biblical authority they are the sole arbitrators as to which of the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant are in and which are out! One of these pretextologists recently wrote that Romans 4:13 is proof that God has broken His solemn undertakings in the Abrahamic Covenant because Abraham was called to be the heir of the world which, in his view, goes beyond any promises of land made to the Jews. Once again the context of Romans 4 is about the conflict between Law and Grace and has nothing to do with the other promises that God made in the same Covenant to the Jewish people. In fact the Covenant, in its original form, states that God’s purpose is indeed to reach the peoples of the world, “In you all the families of the earth will be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).  We then agree that Abraham is the father of many nations and the “heir of the world” by the promises contained in this aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant. There is nothing new about this and we believe it but it does not remove or change any part of the original Covenant that also bequeaths to the Jewish people the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  However, in the context of Romans 4, this promise was made to Abraham on condition that he receive it by faith and not by the works of the Law. In other words, it was only Abraham’s believing faith that brought him into right standing with God and not the works of the Law. This is Paul’s punch line and to then suggest that he is debunking the other promises in the Covenant is again pretextology at work. Here below is the verse in question:

 

“For the promise that he would be the heir of

                         the world was not to Abraham or to his seed

                         through the law, but through the righteousness

                         of faith.”

                                                            Romans 4:13

 

The Attempt to Discredit Christian Zionists

 

Another weak theological position is the idea that if you believe in the integrity of the Abrahamic Covenant, including of course the promises of the land of Canaan to the Jewish people as an everlasting possession, then you are somehow undermining the Gospel and preaching the Gospel of Zionism. This is just nonsense as if it were true then some of the greatest preachers, Church leaders and evangelists of history must be guilty of this! For instance the Wesley brothers believed in the integrity and efficacy of the Abrahamic Covenant but they in no way were compromising or weak on the nature and content of the Gospel. They preached it faithfully, as do many Christian Zionists, and so they were totally committed to the truth of the Gospel that teaches us that we are only saved by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. To assert otherwise, as the pretextologists frequently insinuate, is to indulge in mischief and deception. One of these pretextologists recently asserted that he was challenging biblical Christian Zionists because his only concern was that of preserving the truth and purity of the Gospel. The insinuation behind this comment is clear; that is, if you believe that the Abrahamic Covenant is still intact in all aspects, including that of a promise of land to the Jewish people then you are a preacher of a false Gospel! This is also absurd because he would then have to lay this accusation against vast segments of the Church world-wide and against great preachers like Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Jack Hayford of the Four Square Church, Derek Prince, Robert Murray McCheyne, Angus Buchan, David Pawson, Franklin Graham and Reinhard Bonnke, who, by the way, has led one hundred million people from all over the world to Christ. Once again this pretextologist routinely lifts texts out of the Bible that in context have no application whatsoever to the various aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant. By this practice he routinely seeks to nullify these aspects and thus claims that Israel’s modern day restoration is a political accident that enjoys no biblical justification. In other words he is imposing upon the text an interpretation that is nothing more than a pretext. This is the habit of all those espousing pretextology.

 

Paul’s Defense of the Truth

 

Further more, it must be underlined that Paul was not a theological innovator and he did not anywhere advocate for the adjustment or annulment of any part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Paul’s dramatic conversion on the road Damascus opened his spiritual eyes to the fact that salvation can only be received by exercising faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. He, a man who had dedicated his whole life to keeping the Law (Philippians 3:1-6), realized that Abraham and David were not saved by the Law but by faith in God (Romans 4). The Law could only convict of sin and nothing more (Romans 3:20). To reach the Gentile world with the Gospel he realized that he had to counter the belief that Law keeping was the way to the righteousness of God. Thus in writing the book of Romans he sets out its theme by stating that in the Gospel of Jesus alone, for Jew and Gentile, is the way to the righteousness of God (Romans 1:16-17). Actually, in almost all of his epistles he stresses this truth time and time again and to prove it he relies heavily upon that part of the Abrahamic Covenant that promises salvation in the coming of a redeeming Seed. To construe from this then that the other parts of the Abrahamic Covenant have therefore been abolished is nothing short of presumption because this is nowhere stated. In fact, when writing about the people of Israel in Romans eleven, he stated that God would indeed fulfill all his promises to them because, “The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (cannot be altered, taken back or changed) (Romans 11:29) and that they are beloved of God “for the sake of the Fathers” (Romans 11:28). The God of the Bible clearly has a relationship with unsaved Israel that He definitely does not have with other nations! Indeed Paul warns his readers that if they as Christians despise the Jewish branches that have been cut out of the Olive Tree because of their unbelief they will incur the displeasure of God (Romans 11:17-21). The Bible makes no statement like this concerning any other nation or people group.

 

The Restoration of all Things

 

The truth is, once making a promise God never goes back on it! In the end the Jewish people, through a process of restoration, will be grafted back into their own spiritual tree (Romans 11:24) and “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26). Jesus spoke of their regathering to Jerusalem (Luke 21:24) and Zechariah states that, having been regathered to Jerusalem, they will “look upon Him who they have pierced and mourn for Him” (Zechariah 12:10-11). Ezekiel tells us that their final regathering will be in unbelief and then, once in the land of promise and of their forefathers, they will receive a new heart and a new spirit, a reference to the New Covenant, and consequently they will live in the land forever (Ezekiel 36:24-28). One pretextologist recently stated that God would not deal with an unbelieving Jewish state. He knows “not the scriptures or the power thereof” (Mark 12:24) because this is precisely what God says He will do! The Jews will come back to the land in unbelief and then the God of the Bible, who has never broken His Covenant with them, will redeem and transform them in Christ. (2) See footnote

 

If all of these glorious things happen to the Jewish people in the great city of Jerusalem, including the Old City, then surely it is God Himself who will bring them back and plant them again in Zion? Yes it is, and His basis alone for doing so is a Covenant that He termed to be everlasting and that He made with Abraham four thousand years ago (Genesis 13:14-18). All of Jewish history testifies to this truth, as does Israel’s modern day restoration and Paul confirms that one day the “Deliverer”, Jesus, will finally come “out of Zion” (Romans 11:25-26). This affirms that He will again arise out of and from amongst His own people in Jerusalem meaning that their embracing of Him will bring Him back a second time to the Mt. of Olives. With this Jesus Himself agrees! (Matthew 23:37-39)(3) See footnote.

 

Defending the Truth

 

The conclusion to all of this is that there is no verse or passage of scripture that teaches that the Abrahamic Covenant has been partly or wholly abolished. This Covenant, with all its promises and undertakings, remains entirely intact and this in turn means that Israel’s modern day restoration is not a political accident but indeed evidence of God’s faithfulness to a Covenant that He made with Abraham four thousand years ago. It also means that, as a people, Israel is on a collision course with the “Seed’ (singular) of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 22:18) or with the Prophet “like unto Moses” of the Mosaic Covenant (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). This is the promised Messiah and the One who saves apart from the Law. It is He, who by the New Covenant, died for the sins of His people Israel and for those of the world and by Whom then all the families of the earth have been, are being and will be blessed. So then, Israel’s role in redemptive history has been, and is, to birth God’s redemptive initiative and purpose into the world. She is the vehicle of world redemption or the platform upon which the God of the Bible has built His engagement with the humanity (Romans 9:1-5). Jesus underlined this truth when He said that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22) and John the Apostle recognized this truth in the vision of the pregnant woman clothed with the sun, moon and twelve stars recorded in the twelfth chapter of the book of Revelation.

 

This vision given to John is a reference to Genesis 37 where Joseph has a dream wherein his mother and father are the sun and moon and he and his brothers are the twelve stars. In other words, the pregnant woman of Revelation twelve is none other than Israel; a truth confirmed by the fact that she gives birth to a “Male child” who is destined to rule the nations with a “rod of iron” (Revelation 12:1-5). This is without doubt Jesus and so most definitely the woman is not the Church but Israel. It is Israel that births God’s purpose into the world and so the woman, Israel, brought Jesus into the world and He brought the Church into existence; not the other way around.

 

The Ultimate Goal

 

The goal of Israel’s role in history is to bring forth a Bride for Christ the Messiah (Revelation 19:5-9). This Bride is the real Israel of God comprising all those, whether they be Jew or Gentile, who have exercised saving faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross (Romans 1:16)(Galatians 5:16). These all are a part of Paul’s Olive Tree in Romans eleven and they are designated a “new man” by scripture (Ephesians 2:14-18). This under-lines the fact that all those who are a part of this Bride of Christ are freed from all prejudice and this in turn means that in this body there is no racial, gender, economic, religious or cultural discrimination (Galatians 3:26-29). It is a people freed from all hatred and prejudice and they will be married to Jesus at His second coming. Their great privilege will be to reign with Christ as joint-heirs for all eternity (Romans 8:17-17)(Revelation 3:21).

 

When that day dawns, as it surely will, the peculiar role of Israel in world redemption will come to an end but it will be eternally recorded because the foundations and gates of the eternal and glorious city of God, the New Jerusalem, will be inscribed with the names of the twelve Apostles and the twelve tribes of Israel; all of whom are Jewish (Revelation (Revelation 21:10-14). Above all, the city will have a great King who is none other than Jesus the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and the great Son of David (Revelation 22:16).

 

The Evils of Pretextology

 

Replacement theology or Pretextology has historically unleashed an avalanche of evil upon the Jewish people culminating in the Holocaust. Sam Clarke writes, “(The).. Application of this theology ranges from a subtle way of reading and misinterpreting Scripture to a vicious form of anti-Semitism that has been responsible for the murder of millions of Jews.” Bishop Ryle wrote, “What I protest against is, the habit of allegorizing plain sayings of the Word of God concerning the future history of the nation of Israel, and explaining away the fullness of their contents in order to accommodate them to the Gentile Church. I believe the habit to be unwarranted by anything in Scripture, and to draw after it a long train of evil consequences.”

 

It is no coincidence then that those Church movements that have embraced Pretextology have been most responsible for anti-Semitism through the centuries. Martin Luther, whose life and times we will again celebrate this year, subscribed to this theology and became an anti-Semite (1) See footnote. A well-known Anglican cleric aggressively pursued this theology for years and finally he went too far and the Anglican Bishop, under whom he served, accused him of anti-Semitism and placed him under discipline. Is it not interesting that those churches that have not embraced pretextology have no record of anti-Semitism? Even the apartheid government of South Africa was galvanized from this false teaching! Dutch Reformed Ministers, the most famous of which being the Rev. Dutoit, who was the architect of “Grand Apartheid” and the Rev. D. F. Malan, the first apartheid Prime Minister of South Africa, used Replacement Theology as the foundation upon which to build their ruthless ideology of racial discrimination.

 

Jesus said that we would know the validity and truth of certain teachings by the fruit they produced (Matthew 7:17-20) and in this case the fruit speaks so loudly that we cannot hear the preaching of those who advocate for such a misguided theology. Selah.

 

Malcolm Hedding

 

 Footnotes

 

  • In 1543 Martin Luther published a pamphlet entitled “On Jews and Their Lies.” Europe was rife with anti-Jewish sentiment. Luther added fuel to the fire by asking the question, “What shall we do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews?” He recommended that houses of Jews be “razed and destroyed”, and their religious books burned. This pamphlet and later his anti-Semitic writings, “Annuls of the Jews”, paved the way theologically for Hitler and the Nazis. (The Holy One of Israel by Sam Clarke)

 

  • It is important to note that at Sinai, and through the Mosaic Covenant, God brought the Jewish people into a special relationship with Himself (Exodus 19:1-8)(Deuteronomy 26:16-19). They were thus to reflect to the nations the light that they had received. All of this was based on faith and not on Law keeping, a fact established by Deuteronomy 30:13-14 and confirmed by Paul in Romans 10:6-9. This in turn meant that they were to be a holy and royal nation and that they were to live on the land bequeathed to them as an everlasting possession in righteousness and holiness. In short only a holy people could live on a holy land! Failure to live in a reconciled relationship with God would remove from them the privilege of living on the land of Canaan but it would not remove from them the possession of it. They land would always and forever be theirs, by the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant, but their right of domicile would not. This is then the story of the Major and Minor Prophets who held the people of Israel to account for their sin and rebellion against God. The result was two exiles but there was always a promise of restoration and redemption (Obadiah 17)(Amos 9:14-15)(Deuteronomy 30:1-6).

 

So then, the undertakings and promises of God in the Abrahamic Covenant were unconditional but the promises and undertakings of God in the Mosaic Covenant were conditional upon Israel’s obedience and faithfulness to them. Failure to understand this makes it difficult to understand how these great Covenants are interconnected and therefore to be understood.

 

 

  1. There is absolutely no doubt that for the first two centuries of the present

Church era up until the Church Father Tertullian, the only eschatological

view and teaching of the early Church was that of a coming, as they put it,

“Jewish Kingdom.”  That is, the end time events would be characterized by a

return of the Jews to the land of Canaan, their spiritual recovery, the reign of

Antichrist, the visible return of Jesus to the Mount of Olives and the ushering-

ing in of the Messianic Age.   All the early Church writers beginning with

Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna and the disciple of John the Apostle,

wrote of this. There is not one writer of this period that expounds the errors

of Pretextology  or Replacement Theology, not one!   The eschatological

commentator Peters writes:

 

‘Andrew, Peter, Philip, Thomas, James, John, Matthew, Aristio, John the

Presbyter-all these are cited by Papias, who according to Irenaeus,

was one of John’s hearers, and intimate with Polycarp. Now this

reference to the apostles agrees with the facts that we have proven:

that the disciples of Jesus did hold the Jewish views of the Messianic

reign in the first part of this century and that, instead of discarding

them, they linked them with the Sec. Advent. Next Clement of Rome,

who existed about A.D. 40-100, Barnabas about A.D. 40-100, Hermas

from A.D. 40-140, Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, died under Trajan,

about A.D. 50-115, Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, a disciple of the

Apostle John, who lived about A.D. 70-167 and Papias, Bishop of

Hierapolis lived between A.D. 80-163.”

 

On the other hand Pretextology or Replacement Theology had its beginnings

with a Church Father called Origen who, coming from the Alexandrian School

of Theology, propagated the allegorical method of interpreting the Bible and

thereby discounted the promises made to the Jewish people in the Abra-

hamic Covenant and transferred them to the Church. Augustine, A.D.185-

254, a man of great intellect, embodied these views in his famous work called

“The City of God.” This work rejected the notion of a “Jewish Kingdom” and

introduced a whole new theory about the Millennium called Amillennialism.

Dwight Pentecost writes:

 

“Thus Augustine made several important assertions which molded

eschatological thinking: (1) He denied that the millennium would

follow the second advent, (2) he held that the millennium would fall

in the inter-advent period, and (3) he taught that the church is the

kingdom and there would be no literal fulfillment of the promises

made to Israel….”

 

The views of Origen and Augustine have been adopted by many parts of the

Church until today because Martin Luther’s Reformation, consumed with

establishing the truth that we are put right with God by exercising faith alone

in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, failed to reform this misguided

teaching which contradicted that of the Apostles and early Church leaders.

Again, it is those holding to Pretextology who have, through the centuries,

despised the Jews, persecuted the Jews, exiled them, murdered them in

pogroms and crusades and gassed them in industrialized killing facilities.

 

It was only in 1965 that the Catholic Church finally did away with “The

Teaching of Contempt” that for centuries had echoed the words of

Augustine who stated “it was the will of God to keep a remnant of

the Jews alive in a degraded state as living witnesses of the Christian

truth.”

 

  1. Bishop Ryle has made the following observations:

 

“I believe it is high time for the Church to awake out of its sleep about Old

Testament prophecy. From the time of the old Fathers, Jerome and Origen,

down to the present day, men have gone on in a pernicious habit of

“spiritualizing” the words of the Prophets, until their true meaning has been

well nigh buried. It is high time to lay aside traditional methods of interpreta-

tion, and to give up our blind obedience to the opinions of such writers as

Pool, Henry, Scott, and Clarke, upon unfulfilled prophecy. It is high time to

fall back on the good old principle that Scripture generally means what it

seems to mean…”

 

“It is high time for Christians to interpret unfulfilled prophecy by the light of

prophecies already fulfilled. The curses on the Jews were brought to pass

literally: -so also will be the blessings. The scattering was literal: – so also will

be the gathering. The pulling down of Zion was literal: – so also will be the

building up. The rejection of Israel was literal:-so also will be the

restoration.”

 

  1. Indeed God made (cut) the Abrahamic Covenant in such a way with Abraham

that He alone passed through the sacrificial offerings and then He required of

Abraham that, as a demonstration of his commitment and obedience, he

should sacrifice his only son Isaac on an altar at Mt. Moriah (Genesis 15:17;

Genesis 22:1-3; Genesis 22:15-18). Abraham faithfully obeyed this require-

ment and thus, from that day forward, the Covenant would be uncondition-

ally fulfilled by God Himself; a promise that He has never faltered on. Daniel

Lee writes:

“Most modern evangelicals classify the Abrahamic Covenant

as unconditional. But the label is ambiguous. A review of the

covenant passages strongly suggests that the blessings prom-

ised to Abraham were conditioned on his obedience-making

the covenant in this sense conditional. On the other hand,

once Abraham obeyed God’s commands, the covenant became

prophetically guaranteed-and is, in this sense, unconditional.”

(Daniel Lee-Quodlibet Journal: Volume 6 number 3, July-September 2004.

Issn: 1526-6575)