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Lets start off with the Wikipedias definition:
Replacement Theology, is a Christian doctrine which asserts that the New Covenant through Jesus Christ supersedes the Old Covenants, which was made exclusively with the Jewish people. It holds that the Christian Church has succeeded the Israelites as the definitive people of God or that the New Covenant has replaced or superseded the Mosaic covenant.
Basically, Christians replacing the Jews as Gods possession.
There are many in the western Church today who accept this view. But is this really true? Did the Christians really replace the Jews or is there a place in Gods eternal future for both people groups? God is absolute and our authority (Matt 28:18 nasb). He is the author of all scripture (2 Tim 3:16-17 nasb). Therefore His word is our absolute authority (Matt 4:4 nasb). So when it comes to controversial questions such as these, we have to go back to the only source we have that is absolute: the Word of God.
Before we break down the covenant promises God made with the Jews, lets first look at what a covenant made between two people in the Bible looks like. A covenant, in ancient times, was the most binding and sacred agreement that someone could enter with another party. It typically consisted of two parties, where they would preform a ritual (typically with blood) as a symbolic agreement to a binding oath. This was the case in Gen 15:10-18 nasb (known as the Abrahamic Covenant), where God commanded Abraham to cut certain animals in half, and place them on opposite ends of one another. The idea would be to walk in between the animals through the blood (which would be the ritual) to confirm the binding oath of a covenant. Now when God is one of those parties, then this must be taken seriously. Since God is absolute, then His covenants that He makes are indeed the same, absolute. Meaning that they are forever binding and will be fulfilled. And how do we know this? Well think about it, how can God be God if He doesn’t keep His promises.. He can’t. Therefore the promises He makes must be fulfilled.
We will get back to that in a moment, but for now lets talk about the four specific forever covenants that God made with the Jewish nation. The Abrahamic Covenant, The Land Covenant (The Land), The Davidic Covenant (The Seed), and The New Covenant (The Blessing).
- The first one we mentioned earlier was the Abrahamic Covenant. In this covenant, God promised to make Abraham into a great nation (Gen 17:4-5 nasb), promised to establish them forever and be their God (Gen 17:7 nasb), and promised to give them the land of promise forever (Gen 15:18 nasb, Gen 17:8 nasb). Remember the ritual we talked about earlier? There was something different here than a typical ritual. Just before the ritual began, Abraham fell into a deep sleep (Gen 15:12 nasb), and then, while Abraham was asleep, God passed between the animal sacrifices alone (Gen 15:17 nasb). You see, when two people preformed the ritual, then the binding oath was expected to be maintained by both parties. But since God passed through alone, this indicated that only God Himself was expected to fulfill this promise and that it in no way did it depended on Abraham (the Jewish nation) to fulfill their part in the covenant. This was a clear sign that God intended to keep His promise to the Jewish nation forever, no matter what the Jews did.
Now lets look at the next three covenants to the Jewish nation:
- The Land Covenant (The Land): Deu 30:3-6 nasb – Here God reiterates what He said in the Abrahamic Covenant, that He would give the Jews the land forever. He also added a promise that if they were scattered among the nations, that He would bring them back to the land that He has given them as a possession forever.
- The Davidic Covenant (The Seed): 2 Sam 7:12-13 nasb – Here God made a covenant with David to raise up an offspring after him who would establish His kingdom and His throne forever among His people. This was not only a covenant, but a prophecy of Jesus Christ and His reign in the Millennial Kingdom.
- The New Covenant (The Blessing): Jer 31:31-34 nasb – Here, God makes a covenant to the Jewish nation for a future blessing (the days are coming). He said that it would be different from the previous covenant that He made with the Jews during the time of Moses (which was the command to obey the Law) which the Israelites broke and did not fulfill. In this new covenant, God promised that he would give them His spirit and write the law on their hearts. This means that they would no longer be bound to the Law, but to God directly. In this way, God would forgive their sins and remember them no more (forever). This new covenant sounds familiar..
*Note: There is a familiar theme among all these covenants: Forever.
There are a couple more covenants that I wanted to talk about before we answer our questions.
The Mosaic Covenant was a covenant that God made with the Israelites. It was an oath between both parties, that if the Israelites obeyed all that God commanded them (The Law), then He would bless them, but if they disobeyed His command, then He would curse them. Unlike the other covenants, both God and the Israelites were required to maintain this oath (Deu 11:13-18 nasb). But the Israelites broke this covenant with God (Jer 31:32 nasb) and made it void. Therefore God, in His unfathomable mercy, promised a new covenant to the Jewish people through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31-34).
Now if we jump all the way to the book of Matthew, during the last passover meal, Jesus makes a pretty interesting statement to the Church (Christians) in Matt 26:26-28.
26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” 27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28 For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Here Jesus made a new covenant with the Church and preformed a ritual as “a symbolic agreement of a binding oath” with wine (blood).
Do you see the connection? When God gave a future blessing of a new covenant to the Jewish nation (Jer 31:31-34), a covenant where God would forgive their sins and remember them no more, He was speaking about Jesus Christ who fulfilled the New Covenant. This covenant was given to the Church and was promised to the Jewish nation for a future time (the days are coming). This new covenant did not replace the previous three covenants (Abrahamic, Land, Davidic), which are binding covenants promised forever, nor did it require any other party but God Himself to fulfill. It was an additional covenant promised to both the Jewish people and the Church.
So, knowing all this, we can finally answer our question. Did the New Covenant through Jesus Christ supersede the Old Covenants, which was made exclusively with the Jewish people? Absolutely not! It was fulfillment of the covenant prophesied through the prophet Jeremiah, which was given to the Jewish people (Matt 5:17 nasb).
The Church did not replace the Jews as Gods people, nor did the New Covenant supersede the others. Both the Church and the Jews were given the New Covenant. Remember, God made four very distinct covenants with the Jewish people, covenants that He Himself established forever, no expiration date, no changes, forever. And when God makes a covenant promise, one that only He is required to keep, then that promise set and stone to be maintained forever.
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And always remember, why is it important to study Bible prophecy? Because never have we been closer than today..