Israel at 70

Israel at 70

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“In Israel in order to be a realist you must believe in

                                                            miracles.”

                                                     David Ben Gurion

 

            “Thus says the Lord, Who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances

             of the moon and the stars for a light by night, Who disturbs the sea, and

             its waters roar (The Lord of hosts is His name): If those ordinances

             depart from before Me, says the Lord, then the seed of Israel shall also

             cease from being a nation before Me forever.”

                                                            Jeremiah 31:35

 

            “I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; they shall build the

             waste cities and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and drink

             wine from them; they shall also make gardens and eat  fruit from them.

             I will plant them in their land, and no longer shall they be pulled up

             From the land I have given them.” Says the Lord your God.”

                                                            Amos 9:14-15

70 years ago, as a consequence of the United Nations partition vote, Israel came into existence as a nation with international approval and legitimacy. Though resisted at the time by five Arab armies that attacked her, she bravely withstood this unprovoked act of aggression and emerged proud and stronger than ever. Israel’s arrival in 1948 on the stage of the world was against the tide of history and in every respect a living miracle that has continued to unfold before our very eyes. There is in fact no explanation for Israel’s survival other than that the God of Israel and of the Bible has been, is and will be, behind it. In the end, because of His remarkable intervention in this regard all nations will come to know that He alone is the Lord of heaven and earth.

For some, even and sadly in the church, this miracle enjoys no biblical significance just as there were those who claimed this when the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile to rebuild their state some 500 years before Christ. They too shouted out in resistance and attempted to wage war against the returning exiles on the grounds that such a return was unjust and a violation of their concept of social justice (Nehemiah 4:1-14). Nothing has changed! They failed then and they will fail now.

Scripture clearly affirms that Israel will exist as a nation before God just so long as the sun, moon and stars are in the skies above us and it further states that a return of the Jews, to the very land of their forefathers, will take place one day wherein they will never be plucked up or removed from the land again (Amos 9:14-15). Quite clearly the prophet Amos is not speaking about their return from Babylon as they were indeed plucked up again and exiled in 70 AD. No, this amazing prophetic statement   by Amos has only found fulfillment in our day! We rejoice in the inspiration and remarkable accuracy of the Bible.

Of a truth all of this happened because of God’s faithfulness to His covenant made with Abraham some 4000 years ago. This covenant, having many parts, including that of a coming Messiah, guarantees that the land of Canaan is the everlasting possession of the Jewish people (Genesis 17:7-8; Psalm 105:7-12). According to Paul, and the writer of the book of Hebrews, this covenant can never be annulled or adjusted (Galatians 3:15; Hebrews 6:13-18). Because of these faithful undertakings God has always restored His people to His land that He, in His desire to bless the world, bequeathed to them. In short, we serve a faithful God Who has demonstrated in Israel’s restoration that He can be trusted because His mighty deeds are validated by scripture and confirmed in the earth. Most of all they are to be seen especially in His kindness to the Jewish people. Truly, the time to favor Zion has come (Psalm 102:12-15).

My friends, Israel will not be dismantled though many have tried and still will attempt to do so because the God of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps as He watches over her (Psalm 121:4). They who would attempt to remove Israel from the earth in the name of their false gods will first have to remove the God of the Bible from His glorious throne! In the end, though great nations attempt to dismantle Israel, they will rupture themselves and, as in the past, vanish into oblivion (Zechariah 12:1-3).

So then, a people who have experienced such destruction and loss through the centuries can rightly rejoice on the 70th year of their restored and glorious third commonwealth. We rejoice with them and we bless and pray for them because their existence has only been for the blessing of the world and still will be, even for those who have been most set against them. This is a day of great rejoicing since it comes on the heels of a glorious jubilee year that has witnessed the decision to return the USA Embassy to Jerusalem. By the way this is only the beginning since our eyes will yet behold great and wonderful things in Zion as Israel moves closer and closer to the amazing destiny that God has for her. Blessed be the God of Israel!

Malcolm Hedding

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

Peddlers of Deception / The Social Justice Issue

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                                “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives

                                 of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down

                                 to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there

                                 on account of My people Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations;

                                 they have also divided up My land.

                                                                                                Joel 3:1-2

                               

 

                “The Arabs have taken into their own hands the Final Solution of the Jewish problem.

                 The problem will be solved only in blood and fire. The Jews will be driven out.”

                                                                                Jamal Al-Husseini, May 1948

 

A new initiative

Segments and leaders of the evangelical church are being drawn away from the traditional and mainstream position on Israel by an initiative that claims to take the high moral ground by proclaiming a commitment to social justice. This invariably means that Israel constitutes an occupying oppressive regime and that the Palestinians are the ones requiring social justice. To bolster this narrative images of the defensive barrier wall are displayed to achieve maximum propaganda effect. After all images like this return our thoughts to the Berlin Wall, the Belfast Wall and the walls of one type or another put in place by the Apartheid regime. One has to admit that the imagery is powerful and it takes well informed minds to counter them. The lack of such information has duped many evangelicals; some of them very well known. This new initiative, designed to discredit pro-Israel evangelicals breeds on ignorance and in fact on lies! It also seeks to smear Christian Zionists as uncompassionate Palestinian and Arab haters. This is just not true! David Solway observes that, “The usual understanding of Israel as an aggressive, colonial, apartheid state robbing the Palestinians of their heritage is quite possibly the greatest political scam of modern times. It is the outcome of a mixture of historical amnesia, ideological prejudice and reflex hostility, which keep it mind-proof.” Those promoting this scam are peddlers of deception!

An old story

Newt Gingrich, an erstwhile Republican Party candidate for the US Presidency and an astute historian, recently shocked the media world when he stated that the Palestinians were an “invented people.” However, being the respected historian that he is, no one was able to challenge him; not even the liberal anti-Israel academic world! His facts were “water-tight!” This is just a reality. This however does not mean that he was demeaning the people who now claim a Palestinian national identity. It simply means that he told the truth and, as we found out, the truth hurts. Social justice must be built on the truth. This is why it was necessary to dismantle the Apartheid regime since the awful oppressive record of the white minority government of South Africa was true. It could not be disputed; but in the Middle East we have a claim to land by a people that were in fact invented and indeed never did have a history of national statehood in Palestine. The people who do are the Jews and their claim has a four thousand year history!! Isn’t that amazing; but you would never believe it if you listened to the narrative projected by the new peddlers of deception. When we “sell the truth” we will, in the end, fall.

At the beginning of the 20th Century and up until 1948 all peoples living in British Mandated Palestine were designated “Palestinian”, even Jews! I have personally seen many identity documents testifying to this. It is a fact. This means that there never was a Palestinian People, as we know them today. The truth is the new Palestinian people were invented by the PLO as a tool to further their struggle to completely destroy the State of Israel. Yasser Arafat, probably the most famous Palestinian, was in fact an Egyptian! This “invention” took root in 1964 at a time when the PLO and its various partners had everything they say they want now; even the Old City of Jerusalem, and yet they drew up a charter having “destruction clauses” that essentially called for the removal of Jewish sovereignty over all the remaining areas of the region. This they called the “Phased Plan” for the total destruction of Israel. Note; they drew up a charter calling for the destruction of Israel and not a constitution calling for Palestinian statehood even though they possessed Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (The West Bank). In short they created a people group as part of their strategy to destabilize all of Israel and, as they put it then, “to drive the Jews into the sea.” This is the truth and social justice activists must take this into consideration.  This in turn means that the Palestinians never actually existed as a state and therefore Israel has never occupied their so-called territory. Israel’s claim to all the territory west of the Jordan River is also legal under international law as it was verified by the League of Nations in 1922 under the San Remo Agreement and thereafter confirmed by the United Nations in 1948. This too is the truth.

This of course brings us to the Oslo initiatives of the 1990s. The fact that Israel, by a process of negotiation, agreed to cede territory to the Palestinians changed the equation but it did mean that Israel, that had a right to the land by international law, was demonstrating a commitment to social justice by agreeing to give it away. It also meant that if she remained on it after the Oslo Accords having been signed she would be designated an occupier.   However, it also meant that the Palestinians, through their leadership, would have to be honest peace partners and disavow violence and thus remove the destruction clauses from their charter. This they have never done. Thus up until the Oslo Accords Israel was not an occupying force. As we all know the Oslo agreements were hammered out between the Israeli leadership headed up by Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO leadership headed up by Yasser Arafat. The truth is, Arafat was a dishonest peace partner; he never intended to keep his side of the agreements and even said so in Johannesburg  in 1994; just five months after he had  shaken the hands of Bill Clinton and Yitzhak Rabin on the lawns of the White House. All the while Israel, by September 2000, had fully withdrawn from the Palestinian territories in compliance with the Oslo dictates and yet the Palestinians began an Intifada (uprising) in September of that year on the grounds that Ariel Sharon, the then housing Minister, could not visit the Temple Mount. Years later Arafat’s wife Sulha admitted that the Intifada was strategically planned because her husband was not prepared to give away, as she put it, “The Palestinian inheritance.”

Arafat therefore, and by implication the Palestinians, did not negotiate in good faith. Thus, in what way do they now cry out for social justice? In the end, as it has always been, the Palestinian form of social justice is the complete destruction of Israel. This is the old story that never changes and, if you doubt it, just take a look at the school books given to their children and listen to the sermons preached by their Muslim clerics every Friday. Palestinian Media Watch will be more than willing to give you unedited copies of these. Golda Meir was right when she stated in 1957 that, “Peace will come when the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israel.”

So, given the duplicity that was employed under the Oslo agreements, it is clear that those who require justice, given the painful concessions that they made up until September 2000, are the Israelis! They made ridiculous agreements in their pursuit of peace including being willing to hand over the Temple Mount to the Palestinians, arming them with weapons and offering them 97% of the West Bank and, if this was not enough, they unilaterally withdrew from Gaza and were rewarded with 12,000 missiles launched against their southern towns and villages.  You talk of social justice; well surely the displaced people of Gush Katif would like to receive it! But sadly this narrative is denied, distorted and conveniently ignored because of an old hatred coupled to a militant Islamic religious ideology that cannot abide the existence of a Jewish State in the region. And this too is the truth!

The fact is; the Palestinian leadership has time and time again robbed their people of justice and should be held accountable. By now they could have had a state with significant parts of Jerusalem as its capital but they do not; all because they could not embrace social justice, courage and honesty.

The new reality

That a people now exist called Palestinians is a reality. Three generations have brought this people to a place of viable existence. No one can or should deny it. This means that at least two generations have been trapped in the never ending cycle of violence and intrigue and yet it will surprise many to learn that today Palestinians on the West Bank enjoy a higher standard of living, education and economic prosperity than their counterparts in the region. Consequently, the gross domestic product of their region is in strong positive territory and expected to grow even more during the years to come. Why is this? Because their economy is intertwined with one of the most successful economies in the world today; that of Israel’s. Given the chaos of the so-called “Arab Spring” the West Bank is an island of prosperity. Sounds like economic justice to me!

Sadly at a political level the plotting and hatred continues unabated and so Mahmoud Abbas has recently cemented his relationship, and therefore that of the destiny of his people, with Hamas. There must be no mistake about the significance of this in that it puts the Palestinians on a collision course with Israel because it affirms their commitment, as it always has been, to annihilate Israel. The Israelis must respond, and have, by tightening security to protect their citizens from harm. At a joint statement after their meeting Abbas and Mashaal of Hamas said, “We are determined to resist the enemy and achieve our national goals.”  So, once again there will be no social justice for the Palestinians as the Israeli pullout from Gaza demonstrated. Hamas did not see this as a token of goodwill and an opportunity to build a new economic and social order for their people but rather as an act of weakness and immediately set about building assault tunnels and launching missile attacks in their thousands against the southern villages of Israel. Is this social justice? Jihad against Israel will continue and the Palestinian people will pay the price in having to be continuously subjected to checkpoints, searches, general security measures and barrier walls. We should all weep over this human tragedy and truly Jesus does weep at the checkpoint but not for reasons espoused by some evangelical leaders today! If you ask the attendees at the “Christ at the Check Point Conference” or the Sabeel movement, “Who is responsible for Palestinian suffering?” their answer will be Israel but the facts tell a different story. But this “different story” will never be heard because it is not politically correct to tell it. The peddlers of deception will make sure of it.

The need for compassion

So, where should the church be in all of this? The answer lies in first getting hold of the truth and the facts surrounding the big picture. I have very briefly given these above. When we do this we are better enabled to put forward the call for social justice. Social justice will take hold when leaders are transparent, honest and really committed to peace. What does the history of this conflict tell us? I will leave my readers to answer that question. No wonder Paul exhorted us to place leaders at the very top of the prayer list. Secondly, we need to recognize that there is a small picture that begs for our attention as well. That is, that real men, women, boys and girls are trapped in this conflict on both sides and they need help, care, love and compassion. In Jesus’ day whole communities of one type or another were caught in the conflict that Rome brought to the region. Jesus, almost exclusively ignored the conflict but instead healed the sick, fed the hungry, loved the stranger (even the Roman one) and lifted up the broken-hearted. He blessed the children, sat with sinners and taught the multitudes about God. Scripture affirms that He moved from one check point to another as He traveled from the Galilee to Jerusalem and never said a word about them! He knew that the big picture was in the hands of the Father as it is today.

So, our hearts should break as we witness ordinary Palestinian people grappling with the trauma of having to live “caged in” behind walls and impeded on a daily basis by security checks etc. We should also weep for Jewish families that have had their children and loved ones brutally murdered and torn from them. This is no way to live and these images, projected in a way that divorces them from the bigger picture, can turn anyone into a radical activist and they do; on both sides of the divide. A distorted image is no foundation upon which to build social justice. The Second Intifada was given momentum because video footage appeared to show a twelve-year-old boy being shot by Israeli troops. The fact is the video was distorted and edited to make it look like this and a French journalist who witnessed the whole thing later testified in a French court that the boy was in fact killed by Palestinian gunfire. He fled to France because his life had been threatened if he dared to tell the truth. So, once again, the peddlers of deception pushed home their false narrative.

Thus, while some evangelicals gather  to reinforce their distorted narrative and lay blame for everything at Israel’s door let us ask them how many millions of Shekels they have invested in the social upliftment of Palestinians? I am the erstwhile leader of one of the biggest Christian Zionist organizations in the world. I therefore know for a fact that considerable amounts of money were constantly invested in Palestinian communities. In fact the organization I led distributed its social welfare relief into the region strictly according to its population demographics and still does. We cared for everyone just as Jesus did. This is social justice on the move!  It is not selective but gives “voice” to the biblical truth that Jesus loves all people the same. He has no favorites. Compassion is not endless words and an attempt to win an ideological battle. The truth is the truth and it must be well understood and embraced but compassion reaches to the heart and says, because God loves you I will help you. One cannot be unmoved by the tears that flow down children’s faces or by the distress that comes to mothers and fathers trying to get by in a world that traps them in endless discouragement.

The Christian message demands that we hold to the truth, that which is biblical and historical, and that we bring to all the peoples of the Middle East a message of love and hope. When we do this we will be mediators of social justice.

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

Peddlers of Deception / Fulfillment Theology

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                                “Cultivate the habit of reading prophecy with a single eye to the

                                 literal meaning of its proper names. Cast aside the old traditional

                                 idea that Jacob, and Israel, and Judah, and Jerusalem, and Zion

                                 must always mean the Gentile Church, and that the predictions

                                 about the second Advent are to be taken spiritually, and the

                                 first Advent literally. Be just, and honest, and fair. If you expect

                                 the Jews to take the 53rd of Isaiah literally, be sure you take the

                                 54th, 60th, and 62nd literally also.”

                                                                                Bishop J. C. Ryle-Liverpool 1867

 

In recent years a new form of Replacement Theology has arrived on the Christian scene called Fulfillment Theology. Like Replacement Theology it ends up contending that, since the time of Jesus, the Jews no longer enjoy a god-given national destiny in the land of Canaan. This time around it is not the Church that replaces Israel and takes over all her promises in scripture but in fact Jesus. He fulfills in His life and redemptive work all the promises that God ever made to the Jews; even the promise that Canaan would be the everlasting possession of the Jewish people! Jesus is the Promised Land. This allows the proponents of this theory to distance themselves from the awful evil deeds and anti-Semitic positions that those espousing Replacement Theology have been guilty of throughout the centuries. However, they end up believing the same thing and thus peddling the same deception.

Here for example is what Dr. Gary Burge of Wheaton College says in his book, “Jesus and the Land”:

“Jesus does not envision a restoration of Israel per se but instead sees Himself as embracing the drama of Jerusalem within His own life….In some manner, the initial restoration of Israel has already begun inasmuch as Christ, the new temple, the New Israel, has been resurrected. This theological agenda is called John’s messianic replacement (or fulfillment) motif…The replacement motif threads its way through the gospel as a controlling idea in the so-called Book of Signs (John 1-12).”

God and Israel’s modern day restoration.

Much of the above is backed up by scripture but falsely so! Therefore, it always comes down to the same thing and that is; to find a way to disinvest the Jews of any divine action or biblical significance in Israel’s modern day restoration. Once this position has been taken Israel can be viewed as any other nation state entangled in an internal and regional conflict. This usually means that any people can lay claim to the Holy Land, and they do, and Israel is constantly portrayed as an occupying bully robbing other peoples of their land and refusing to hand over to them the old biblical city of Jerusalem. The fact that the Jews have a three thousand year unbroken relationship with Jerusalem is routinely ignored and discarded.

Today many Christians back this thesis and even some evangelicals are beginning to abandon their traditional pro-Israel biblical position in favor of Fulfillment Theology. Also the fact that some leading Christian academics and Ministers have thrown their weight behind it is giving added momentum to its dissemination and acceptance. Nevertheless it remains a flawed theological thesis and those who propagate it are peddlers of deception.

Jesus and Fulfillment

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Law till all is fulfilled.” Matthew 5:17-18

When Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law He meant just that! That is, He would perfectly fulfill in His life the moral demands of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. He would thus prove to be a perfect man and would give His life on the cross so as to remove the curse of the Law from our lives (Galatians 3:13). Jesus thus saves us by the power of a perfect and thus indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16). So, in Matthew five, six and seven He was not talking about the Covenant that God made with Abraham but about the Covenant that God made with Moses. The context of these chapters overwhelmingly proves this. Jesus was expounding the inward nature of the Law and our failure to keep it. He would thus fulfill the demands of it by living in us! This is the very essence of the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35; Romans 8:3-4). This, and only this, is what He fulfills. To suggest then that He was in some way by this statement debunking the Abrahamic Covenant and assuming that in His person only its promises would now be fulfilled is a giant leap into mere speculation and error.

Moses and Fulfillment

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” Deuteronomy 18:15

 Moses, referring to Jesus, said that God would raise up a Prophet like unto himself. Again Moses was the great Lawgiver of Israel and this coming Prophet (Messiah) would be like Moses unique and “one of a kind.” He would fulfill the obligations of the Law on behalf of a fallen world. Moses was not undermining the promises given to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant by this statement. No to the contrary he was in fact giving it “executive authority.” Abraham’s Covenant is God’s decision to save the world (Galatians 3:8) but Moses’ Covenant is God’s decision to teach the world that it needs to be saved (Romans 3:20). Moses empowers Abraham! That is, the world must be convicted of sin (Moses) before it can be saved from sin (Jesus). The Apostle John put it this way…”For the Law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The fact that Jesus’ life then was in some measure a re-enactment of Moses’ life does not imply that God has torn up His covenant with Abraham. This is a leap of total presumption and those who make it are not on “biblical territory”. Rather it implies that God is going to “tear up sin” in our lives and that Israel would identify the Prophet who would do this by His likeness to Moses! Therefore the nation of Israel has no excuse for not recognizing Him. So, Jesus:

  1. Was born under the Law  (Galatians 4:4).
  2. Lived under the Law (John 1:14-18).
  • Was circumcised according to the Law (Luke 2:25-2).
  • Was taught by the word of the Law (Luke 2:46).
  • Was for forty days in the wilderness proved by the Law (Luke 4:1-13).
  • Went up to a mountain to deliver the Law (Matthew 5:1-2).
  • Died to fulfill the demands of the Law on behalf of all people (Romans 8:3-4).

This proved that Jesus was Moses’ successor but He did not abolish, in any way, the promises of God made to Israel in the Abrahamic Covenant. These promises set aside the Jewish people as the “vehicle of world redemption” (Romans 3:1-2; 9:1-5) and they designate Canaan as the everlasting possession of the people of Israel (Genesis 17:7-8). Indeed the writer of the book of Hebrews holds up the Abrahamic Covenant, and God’s faithfulness to it, as proof that He can be trusted and will not fail believers in Jesus who have been saved by the New Covenant (Hebrews 6:13-20).  The writer makes these statements years after Israel’s rejection of Jesus’ Messianic credentials. This is important to note because those espousing Fulfillment or Replacement Theology assert that Israel forfeited the promises of the Abrahamic Covenant because of their rejection of Jesus. To suggest then that these promises have been somehow abolished or are fulfilled by Jesus is just not true. The Hebrew Prophets clearly “see” a day of restoration for the Jewish people that goes beyond their return from Babylon (Amos 9:11-15; Isaiah 2:1-4; Zechariah 14). It is passages like the one in Amos that confound “fulfillment proponents” and lead some of them to state that these scriptures need to be “de-zionized!” That is, altered or removed from the Bible because they predict a future and final return of the Jews to the land of Canaan by which they will never be plucked up again and exiled. Clearly Amos, and for that matter Isaiah and Zechariah, is writing of a day far beyond that of 520 BC because the Jews were exiled again in 70 AD and were plucked up again.

Paul and Fulfillment

“Now to Abraham and his Seed 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

In Galatians three Paul is not arguing for or suggesting that the Abrahamic Covenant has been reconstructed or entirely fulfilled in Jesus. Indeed then he is not referring to a re-arrangement of the covenant made with Abraham but to an aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant that was enshrined in it when God first made it with Abraham two thousand years before. That is, while the Covenant has clear promises to Abraham’s descendants (plural) (Genesis 17:7) it also holds a promise in a descendant (singular) (Genesis 22:18). In other words, from the very beginning a promise of land and purpose is given to the descendants of Abraham but, at the same time, a promise of salvation and reconciliation with God is given through a descendant; Jesus! The two promises are mutually interdependent. That is, the one cannot do without the other in that the coming of the “Seed” is totally dependent upon the return of the “seeds” to the land of Canaan and Bethlehem in particular in 520 BC. Therefore the gospel of Luke teaches us that Jesus and John the Baptist came into the world because of God’s faithfulness to the Abrahamic Covenant (Luke 1:54-55; 71-75).

The real point that Paul was making is that salvation is not received by attempting to keep the Law as the Law was only given to convict of sin (Galatians 2:16; 3:24). Only those who exercise living faith in the finished redeeming work of the “seed” can experience salvation. This promise was made 430 years before the Law was given (Galatians 3:17-18). Paul was not tampering with the Abrahamic Covenant and suggesting that it has been reconstructed or abolished; actually he affirms that in no way can it be annulled and this is why it enjoys an authority that he appeals to(Galatians 3:15).

It must be remembered that the promise that a Seed, as of one, would save the world was made two thousand years before Jesus came. If this was the full extent of the promises in the Abrahamic Covenant then God would never have led the “seeds” out of Egypt into the Promised Land. The peddlers of deception are constantly seeking to undermine the Abrahamic Covenant by the contextual abuse of Galatians 3:16. That is, they seek to eradicate the eternal promises in the covenant made to Abraham’s descendants and, if they can succeed in this then they can invalidate Israel’s modern day restoration by asserting that it enjoys no biblical significance.  One cannot and should not read Galatians three like that. This is the absurd position of those who hold to fulfillment theology. The Bible itself debunks this nonsense. It is a false theology just like its sister called Replacement Theology.

Conclusion

In Paul’s time there was only one cannon of scripture, the Hebrew Scriptures or, what many call the Old Testament. It was to these scriptures that Paul was chiefly referring when he wrote, “all scripture is inspired and given of God” etc. (2Timothy 3:16). The same goes for Peter when he wrote that scripture is given by holy men who were “moved by the Holy Spirit” (2Peter 1:21). In other words the New Testament, though equally inspired, is in fact, a faithful exposition of the Old Testament scriptures. When we realize this we honor all of scripture and recognize that no “prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation.” Those who seek to disinvest the Jewish people of a biblical significance to their modern day return to Zion are in essence seeking to re-write great God-given covenants that God bequeathed to Israel. They are thereby ‘playing with fire” and placing themselves in conflict with the purpose of God. In all of this it is good to remember that we can do nothing against the truth. (2 Corinthians 13:8) This should make us all tremble!

 

Malcolm Hedding.

Peddlers of Deception

Peddlers of Deception

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“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated
from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place
where you are-north-ward, southward, east ward, and
westward; for all the land which you see I give to your
descendants forever.”
Genesis 13:14-15

“And I will establish My covenant between Me and you
and your descendants after you in their generations, for
an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your
descendants after you. Also I give to you and your
descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger,
all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I
will be their God.”
Genesis 17:7-8

“What I protest against is, the habit of allegorizing plain
sayings of the Word of God concerning the future history
of the nation 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.”
Bishop Ryle of Liverpool-1867

In a recent discussion with a group of people, who have taken it upon themselves to challenge biblical Christian Zionists, it was asserted that the Hebrew term here in these passages above for “descendants” is in fact “seed” in the singular. This is indeed true but they went on to state that consequently the God of the Bible had in fact made no promises of land to the descendants of Israel but rather only to the “seed” as referring to Jesus. Jesus inherits everything and the Jews have thus, by this devious theological position, been dis-invested of the promises made to them in terms of being the everlasting possessors of the land of Canaan. The fact is they have in so doing mishandled the Word of God and are thereby peddlers of deception!

The term “seed” though in the singular can also be translated as “seeds” or “descendants” because the context of the passage demands it. This is not uncommon even in the English language as we can use the term “man” which designates the singular in a way that it refers to “men”; the plural. We can therefore say, “Man cannot handle his technology” or “It appears that it is not possible for man to control his carnality.” Actually all the major and minor prophets do this by referring only to Jacob, one individual, when referring to all the people of Israel! (Micah 1:5)

Again it is the context, which demands how we interpret the Bible and every translator, of all the respected and revered versions of the Bible that we have today, translate “seed”, in the singular, as “descendants” or “seeds.” These are highly trained biblical scholars who have professional skills in dealing with Hebrew and yet, according to this group of antagonists, these scholars are mistaken. I think not! In fact I want to stress it again, there is not one translation of the Bible that translates the word seed in the singular in the two passages above as referring to anything else but the descendants (seed in the plural) of Israel.

Indeed if “seed” in these passages is to be taken only as the singular, that is as referring only to one individual, then this would make the whole history and journey of the Israelites from Egypt to the promised land absurd and it would make their own understanding of their history false because God did not in fact promise them the land of Canaan as their eternal possession. Only a fool would advocate for this position! In addition the conquest of the land would then have been a huge mistake and Joshua’s leadership in this regard should be considered unjust. This is exactly the position that an Anglican Priest took a few years ago when he declared that, “Joshua was the patron saint of ethnic cleansing.”

David the great King of Israel understood the promises that God made to Abraham to be understood as referring to all of Israel as in descendants (Psalm 105:42-45) and the Major Prophets took the same position. Israel would be judged and corrected and even exiled but she would always return to the land of her forefathers (Amos 9:14-15). God gave the land of Canaan to the people of Israel as an everlasting possession, scripture plainly says this and it no where removes this promise; no where, and this is indeed the “Achilles’ Heel” of those subscribing to Replacement Theology or “Fulfillment Theology.” They have great difficulty in rightly dividing the Bible since they routinely abuse its context and have problems with understanding terms like “everlasting!” If everlasting does in fact mean everlasting then Israel’s modern day restoration has great significance and this is precisely what they wish to deny.

For them, that God would choose the people of Israel as the means by which to bless the world (Genesis 12:1-3) is totally unacceptable and even racist. The truth is, Israel is a servant nation and was never chosen by God because she was or is better than any of the other nations; in fact God saw her as the least of all the nations (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). He chose her only to be the vehicle of world redemption (John 4:22) and thus the means by which He could amplify His voice in the world (Romans 9:1-5) and give the gift of His Son to it. For some reason people, even Christian people, hate this and wish to resist it. Martin Luther did this as do many today and they will go to any place of theological error to achieve it. For instance the same group mentioned above welcomed a contributor to their discussion who boldly asserted that when Jesus comes again He would not do so visibly, physically and literally to the Mt. of Olives on the east side of Jerusalem. No, His return is to be understood in spiritual terms only. This constitutes a total violation of scripture but this person takes this position because He knows that, if Jesus is returning to Jerusalem, He must be returning to His people who have been restored there from the nations because He said this would happen (Luke 21:24) (Matthew 23:37-39). Thus, because no biblical significance must be given to Israel’s modern day restoration, the clear teaching on His return must be denied and waffled away. When he put forth this notion not one person corrected him but rather he was thanked for his contribution!

“Now to Abraham and his Seed 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

This quote actually comes from Genesis 22, which tells us about the binding of Isaac. According to the book of Hebrews this episode in Abraham’s life constituted a picture of Christ’s death. Isaac is taken to Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem, wood is placed on his back and he carries it to the place of his execution where he is placed on the wood and nearly sacrificed by Abraham. After God stays Abraham’s hand he assures him that He, God, will send a seed (singular) to be sacrificed as Isaac was for the sins of the world. God says, “In your seed all the families of the world will be blessed (saved)” (Genesis 22:18).

The context of this passage is indeed in the singular and thus it is a promise that Messiah would come one day and die for the sins of the world. It is His death alone that will bring redemption or salvation to the human race. This is true and the argument that Paul is making in his letter to the Galatians has nothing to do with the promises that God made to Abraham in terms of his descendants but everything to do with the fact that no one will be saved by keeping the law, which only came four hundred and thirty years after God had made the promise to Abraham of a coming saving seed, Jesus. The Law teaches us about sin or is our schoolmaster (Galatians 3:24)(Romans 3:20) but Jesus died for our sins, like Isaac foreshadowed, and is thus our Savior (Galatians 3:13). This is the context of Galatians three.

Those who seek to use Galatians 3:16 as a means to negate the other promises that God made to Abraham at the same time, which promises have to do with Abraham’s descendants and with the land of Canaan and are said to be everlasting, are deceptive peddlers of error. They have failed to rightly divide the Word of truth!

Malcolm Hedding.

Billy Graham

Billy Graham

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Today, with sadness and much joy, we learned that the world’s beloved evangelist, Billy Graham, has gone home to heaven to receive his eternal reward. The greatest of which for him will be to be reunited with his beloved Ruth! Millions of people all over the world have been touched by his powerful ministry and will join him in heaven’s mansions one day. Truly he plundered hell and populated heaven with a message that was simple, true, biblically sound and life changing. In one sense he was just a preacher of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ. He told the message of the cross in words that the every day man and woman in the street could easily understand and so we shall ever remember those remarkable scenes of thousands of people streaming out to the center of a football field, rugby stadium or athletics field to repent of their sins and make Jesus lord of their lives. George Beverly Shea, accompanied by a huge choir sang, “Just as I am” and those responding had tears of repentance falling from their eyes and running down their cheeks. The power of the Gospel was evident everywhere and lives were forever transformed. Billy Graham was truly a gift to the world!

I first heard him preach in 1973 when he did so in a rugby stadium in Durban South Africa. He took John 3:16 as his text and believe me the whole country came to a standstill that day as they turned on their radios to hear the man of God. Thousands responded all over the nation and were truly redeemed from the ravages of sin and filled with the joy of salvation. Billy Graham touched the nation as he did many nations all over the world. We have lost a great man of God today!

America has not only lost a wonderful man of God but a prophet and pastor. He was in every way the nation’s Pastor even speaking into the lives of successive Presidents. Indeed up until the very end he was concerned with the welfare of the nation and wept over its sin. Truly Billy Graham was the “Gatekeeper of the Nation” and his loss will be felt everywhere. We feel a bit like Isaiah for, in the year that the godly king Uzziah died, he went before the Lord in anguish and despair essentially wondering what would happen now? How would the nation survive without a godly king? God’s answer was swift and sure and it was embodied in a question, “Who will go for us and who can we send?” Isaiah then realized that the time for him to step up had come and so he responded to God’s question by saying, “Here am I send me!”

Billy Graham’s life inspires us all to stand up and be counted. We must pick up his mantle and preach the Gospel of Jesus everywhere.  It’s time for us to say, “Here am I, send me.” This is Isaiah’s message and exhortation and we will best honor Billy Graham’s life by likewise serving His Lord and Savior. Truly we thank God for the gift of Billy Graham’s life and we thank God that his ministry will continue among us by reason of his many books and stirring crusade videos!

Malcolm Hedding

Statement – President Trump Declares Jerusalem is Israel’s Capitol

Statement – President Trump Declares Jerusalem is Israel’s Capitol

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The Time to Favor Zion

“But You, O Lord, shall endure forever, and the
remembrance of Your name to all generations,
You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the
time to favor her, yes the set time, has come.”
Psalm 102: 12-13

“And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and
be led away captive into all nations. And
Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the
times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.”
Luke 21:24

 

For centuries well known Christian, preachers, leaders and teachers have written of the biblical truth that calls for a restoration of the Jewish people to the land of their forefathers and to the city of Jerusalem at the end of the age. The scriptures call this, “The time to favor Zion.” This has not happened in a corner and is not a political issue but a biblical one with political consequences; but this has always been the case when the Jews have returned to Zion. There have been those who have rejoiced in Israel’s restoration and those who have aggressively resisted it. Nehemiah knew this dynamic well and sadly, nothing has changed. This modern day return of the Jews to Canaan and to their ancient capital Jerusalem is the out flowing of God’s eternal promises made to the Jewish people through the covenant that God made with Abraham and their Fathers 4000 years ago. This covenant, much to the consternation of many, has never been annulled or adjusted a fact clearly testified to by the New Testament scriptures.

Israel’s unique place in history is redemptive and for the blessing of the whole world. She is the vehicle of world redemption and as such has given to the world a revelation of God and His word that is amazing. This revelation has made nations great and has brought to their shores the saving knowledge of a Jewish Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth (John 4:22).

Today an American President, Donald Trump, had the courage to embrace what scripture embraces when the United States of America, by his declaration, affirmed that Jerusalem is without a doubt the undivided, eternal capital of the nation of Israel. No other nation can lay claim to Zion in this way and no other nation has ever had Jerusalem as it capital. Indeed Israel’s capital city was first declared 3000 years ago when King David reigned in Jerusalem. Donald Trump’s declaration is brave, biblical and honest, and the God of the Bible will bless him for it.

One hundred years ago, almost to the day, as the Jews were lighting their Hanukah candles a fervent Christian General called Allenby liberated Jerusalem. Just a few weeks before, on the 7th of November, his nation had issued the Balfour Declaration that paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel. Jerusalem’s liberation was certainly a sign that an amazing cycle of events would now follow, and they did. The time to favor Zion had come!

Just fifty years later, in June of 1967, the Israel Defense Force finally liberated biblical Jerusalem and brought it under Israel’s sovereignty, thus uniting the city and opening it up to all peoples of faith. On the 6th December 2017, after another fifty years, Jerusalem has finally been liberated diplomatically. That is, an American President has had the courage to keep his word and honor the truth. This is astonishing, and while many will weep and gnash their teeth today and see nothing remarkable in these events, heaven will rejoice and so will God’s people everywhere because He has kept His word to Abraham and is about to bring forth redemption in a most astonishing way. After all His Son said, “When you see these things look up because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28).

 

Today, dear friends God’s “set time” has been fulfilled!

 

Malcolm Hedding

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.

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

Pretextology

Pretextology

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                           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)