Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great h of Bible Prophecy
Debate 2: Ron Rhodes asks, “Are Israel and the Church Distinct in Bible Prophecy?”
Absurdity Hides the Truth
Ron Rhodes puts forward the question “Are Israel and the Church distinct in Bible prophecy?” The fact that this question can even be asked without its absurdity being immediately apparent, not only shows Dispensationalists’ brazen misunderstanding of Scripture, but also the inroads that their false teaching has had on Christendom.
Besides, Rhodes’ intent with the question is to disprove a straw-man case of the Church replacing Israel and establish the Dispensationalist case for the Church and Israel remaining distinct. However, a simple study of the Bible, free from affiliated doctrinal bias, shows that there is no case for either position.
Israel not Replaced, but Saved
Scripture teaches that Jews (those of Israel) who accept Jesus as their prophesied Messiah are automatically made a part of His Church. Consequently, those of Israel who believe, are not replaced by the Church, but are saved into her and are therefore not distinct from the Church but are of her. Conversely, those of Israel (Jews) who don’t accept Jesus remain under the judgment of God.
Though not a majority, over the millennia many Jews have received Jesus as their Messiah and have formed a part of His Church. This is the Church that Jesus, a Jew, told His Jewish apostles He would build. And, though countless believing Jews have been rejected by the mainstream of Jews and their leadership over the years, their believing didn’t stop them from being Jews or a part of Israel.
Not Rejected nor Postponed
At a time when it may have appeared to some that God had rejected Israel (the Jews), Paul said that they were not rejected, citing himself as an example. So, salvation for Israel (the Jews) is not postponed either. He explained that a partial hardening of Israel was in effect until the fullness of the Gentiles had come in. Paul said that he desired in this life to make his fellow Jews jealous. As such, the Jews who reject Jesus and miss the purpose of the covenants and promises are not rejected as a people, but are still able to receive Him if they repent and believe on Him in this life.
It is only in so far as the majority of Jews rejected Jesus that God said that another people would replace them (see Matt 21:43). This judgment came upon them as a nation on the whole as an outcome of their general unbelief. However, Paul teaches in Romans 11 that God had not rejected Israel (the Jews). Consequently, like Paul, and many other Jews who initially rejected Jesus, Jews could still be saved. However, God had a new people in mind. But what people? The new Israel, the Church, comprising of a multitude of believing Gentiles along with the believing Jews.
Romans chapter 11 clearly teaches “engrafted theology” rather than dispensationalism or replacement theology. Paul teaches that believing Gentiles are grafted into the promises and covenants given to Israel. Also, in Ephesians 3:4-6 Paul writes that the mystery in Christ is that the Gentiles have been made co-heirs with believing Jews, comprising one Body.
The Jews were given the covenants and promises and Paul therefore calls them the natural branches. When they believe in Jesus, they receive the promised Messiah as the chief outcome of the covenants and promises. They co-inherit all that Christ has inherited. They, along with Gentiles who have been grafted in as unnatural branches, are the true Israel of God.
Israel Fulfills Prophecy
Failure by unbelieving Israel to receive Jesus is a failure to receive the blessings of salvation promised through the prophets. The result is, just as in the Old Testament, calamity upon calamity, rejection by outsiders, being a byword on people’s lips, and experiencing a continued lack of peace – all the curses promised by the prophets. In this sense, unbelieving Israel is distinct from believing Israel and the engrafted Gentiles who together comprise the Church. Those who remain unrepentant have no further prophecy to look forward to except of judgment.
Believing Israel fulfills prophecy by being saved, receiving their Messiah (Christ) in a promised New Covenant. They become co-inheritors with Christ and a part of His Church. Therefore, though Gentiles are by far the majority in the Church, they have been engrafted into what is Israel’s. Conversely, unbelieving Israel fulfills prophecy by either being saved through believing in Jesus their Messiah and included in the Church or by being judged both in this life and at His coming.
Deadly Doctrines of Dispensationalism and Replacement Theology
Clearly, Dispensationalists are unable to see that their own option is flawed. They then have become further trapped, and have become a trap to the undiscerning, by arguing against a straw-man of replacement theology. Neither is true! Both are false doctrines with unfortunate outcomes. Replacement theology can lead to and foster anti-Semitism while Dispensationalism can lead to a misdirected hope for the Jews. Both have deadly outcomes!
The Rightful Heirs
Therefore, though unbelieving Jews and Gentiles still occupy much of what is Christ’s, they do so as His enemies only until they have been made His footstool or have been saved. So, though believing Jews don’t occupy or rule the land of Israel, they, along with all believers, are the true heirs of more than just Israel, but the whole world. And, this will certainly be theirs in the promised new heavens and new earth.
Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:
- Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
- Toppling Dispensationalism
- Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
- The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
- The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
- The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
- The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
- When Will The Rapture Occur?
- Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
- Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
- Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
- Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
- The Millennium
- Prophetic Events and Their Timing