Posted on Feb 05, 2024 by Mike LeDuke
In the last post, we looked at passages in the Hebrew prophets in which God proclaimed a reign of God over the earth. This was the same hope held by Jesus; when he taught his disciples how to pray, he told them to pray that God’s will would “be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Over and over, the Bible points toward a time when the world will be changed. It will be a time of renewal, both physically and spiritually.
But where do the Jews fit into this plan? For centuries, many Christians taught that they were replaced by the church. Cyprian of Carthage, a third-century bishop, wrote: ““have endeavored to show that the Jews, according to what had before been foretold, had departed from God, and had lost God’s favor, which had been given them in past time, and had been promised them for the future; while the Christians had succeeded to their place, deserving well of the Lord by faith, and coming out of all nations and from the whole world” (Cyprian of Carthage; Three Books of Testimonies Against the Jews;Treatise 12). Similar quotations can be found in many of the patristic writings.
Nevertheless, these assertions, that the Jews have been cast off by God and replaced by the church are completely untrue. The apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, wrote unequivocally: “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means!” (Romans 11:1).
The Hebrew prophets wrote similarly. God, through Jeremiah, explained that His covenant with Israel was unbreakable, equating its immutability to the rising and setting of the sun (Jeremiah 31:35-37). God will never forsake the Jews because they are His people.
Thus, when the Hebrew prophets write about a time when God will reign over the earth, they base that reign in Israel. Micah describes an exalted Jerusalem (Micah 4:1-3) and Jeremiah refers to Jerusalem as God’s throne (Jeremiah 3:17). God has not cast off His people, and thus, when Paul describes his own personal hope, as a Christian, he specifically calls it the “hope of Israel” (Acts 28:20). When Jesus comes, the kingdom will be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6). In other words, Jews will be the nucleus of that kingdom as it spreads throughout the world. God appointed them as a kingdom of priests (Exodus 19:6) and one of the major jobs of a priest was to teach others (Malachi 2:7). At this point, Israel will fulfill its calling of priesthood; they will help to spread the knowledge of God throughout the world.
The Bible is held together by the promises that God made to Abraham and David. These promises describe a day when the world will be changed, a time when blessing will come to all people and God’s will will be done everywhere. Israel will form the basis of that kingdom, and all of those who have followed the Lord Jesus will take part in leading that kingdom (Revelation 5:10). This is the Bible hope and this is the invitation that God offers to those who come to know Him. That hope is what the Lord was preaching when he preached “the gospel of the Kingdom.”