Forgotten

The bulk of the history of the world after the fall of mankind revolves around who, in fact, will rule over creation in the end.

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There is a common thread through much of Christendom that goes something like this: Israel committed the one sin which “broke the camel’s back” by not recognizing her Messiah, so God punished her by forgetting the many promises which he made to her regarding her future, and instead “replaced” her with a new assembly commonly called “the church.” Of course, this is not true, but that hasn’t stopped the propagation of the malignant supersessionist doctrine through the centuries. Even among the most “enlightened” evangelical denominations—or non-denominations (pick whichever applies best in your situation)—the vast majority of its pastors and teachers either actively teach replacement theology, or passively allow it to be believed.

Even Israel has thought at various times through history that God must have forgotten her. Isaiah, writing in ancient times says, “But Zion said, ‘Yahweh has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.'” Yet Yahweh himself refutes this in the very next verse, “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (1)

Interestingly, Yahweh instructs the Gentile nations throughout the earth to declare, “…Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’ And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (2)  This doesn’t refer to the limited return of Judah from Babylon. We’re talking about an as-yet future fulfillment. Unfortunately, the grafted-in-but-wild-olive-branch church (3) does not always understand its role in proclaiming this good news to its natural-olive-branch big sister. The “rulers…the authorities…the cosmic powers over this present darkness” (4) are more than happy to keep this situation as the status-quo. As a result, the grafted-in-church misses out on much of its purpose.

As long as the church body does not bother the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places with the things that are important to them, the rulers of this age are content to allow the church to exist without much interference. It is only when the church takes God at his word–and his purposes for her seriously–do the powers begin to quake with fear. We have seen how believers are persecuted when they threaten the powers’ authority over men. This is obvious in places like North Korea, China and areas where Islam has the most control.

But what does this have to do with “forgotten” Israel? Much.

Those who align themselves with the promises that God made to Israel will be punished in this world. The spirit of this age will make sure this happens. The time is coming when—in the name of “religion”—forces will arise and will try to, or will “kill us and claim that they are doing God a service.” (5)

What exactly is it that would cause the “rulers of this age” to take such violent measures? It’s actually very simple. There is a prophetic future history in which God declares that he is going to establish his theocracy over creation, ruling from Zion. Much of Christendom is sleep walking through time while the whole drama of history is being played out, and it is imperative that we understand that the bulk of the history of the world after the fall of mankind revolves around who, in fact, will rule over creation in the end.

Art Katz wrote, “When we come to talk about Israel, we will see that Israel is not just a subject or an issue in itself, but what makes Israel profoundly important is that it is the key to the establishment of the theocratic rule of God. Ruling and reigning is the principal struggle over creation and Israel is set right in the midst of it. Israel as a nation presently has no consciousness of these things, but the church must be conscious of it or it will not understand why God has got to be so ruthless in His dealings with that nation. He needs to prepare it {Israel} for its own place in the rule of God, because the theocratic rule {in the millennium} must take place with that nation and in its own land: For the law will go forth from Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3b). This is not poetry, but literal, and the powers of darkness know it better than the church. We need to be clear as to what God’s intention is, because it is over that that the principal issue of Israel is going to rage. The powers of darkness want to exterminate that nation whose survival and restoration to their God is the key to the bringing in of the theocratic rule of God. (6)

We do a great disservice to the disciples when they asked Jesus, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (7) I cannot overstate the number of times I’ve heard something like this, “Oh, the disciples were so hard headed that, even after 40 days of Jesus’ explaining things to them, they still couldn’t get things right!”

It was not a stupid question. It was, in fact, THE question. Of course, the disciples only understood it in a nationalistic sense, because they still did not recognize the greater significance of the coming Kingdom. Jesus did not chastise them; instead he told them that the timing for such things was up to the Father. And the new assembly of believers in Israel’s Messiah—most of whom would be Gentiles—would be God’s instrument in bringing Israel into that restored place, ultimately ushering in the government of the Kingdom of God on earth in the coming millennium, centered in Jerusalem. Why else, as clearly described in Zechariah 14, would the surviving non-Jewish non-Israelite Gentile nations be required to appear yearly in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles with their Jewish brethren? (8) Because Yahweh the King will be sitting on the throne. We call him Jesus.

The bulk of Christendom states that national Israel has no future prophetic role to play in the affairs of men. It could not be more wrong. Some Christians agree that Israel has a significant future prophetic role, but want to limit the church’s involvement with the future hardship that Israel will endure. Although God’s church is not destined to experience his wrath, it will be persecuted by the rulers and authorities, not just for preaching about the coming kingdom of heaven and the gospel of the cross of Messiah Jesus, but also for remembering the many promises which God made to her seemingly forgotten big sister, Israel. One of those was that a descendant of king David would sit on his throne in Jerusalem—a real, physical throne.

Instead of the mutual animosity that the historical church has had with the cultivated-olive-tree, an awakened church must one day reach out in love to a stumbling and partially hardened Israel, causing her to be jealous for the loving relationship that the grafted-in-wild-olive-branch has with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Until then the church will not fulfill one of its primary roles which God has assigned, and the rulers of this age will do whatever they can to prevent this inevitable awakening. The question is, what will have to transpire so that we remember this forgotten task, and how painful will that reminder be?

Footnotes:

  1. Isaiah 49:14-16
  2. Isaiah 62:11-12
  3. Romans 11:11-31
  4. Ephesians 6:12
  5. John 16:2
  6. Katz, Art. Apostolic Realities: The Principalities and Powers
  7. Acts 1:6
  8. Zechariah 14:16-19

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