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Israel and the Church:
Two Great Days, Two Great Doctrines

The first day, May 24, A.D. 33, marked the spiritual birth of the church in Jerusalem. The second day, May 14, 1948, marked the national rebirth of Israel in Tel Aviv.

The first event supports the view that the church is neither a continuation nor a replacement of Old Testament Israel. The second event supports the view that God is not finished with Old Testament Israel.

The remainder of this article will briefly examine the circumstances and implications of each day.


Both covenant and replacement theologians teach that the church has become God's elect people, instead of Israel. But this is not the case, as seen by the following eight arguments.

  1. The Promises Are Different.

    -- The promises and provisions concerning Israel were basically earthly in scope:

      If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you (Ex15:26; cf Dt28)

    -- The promises concerning the church are basically heavenly in scope:

      Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and Your life is hidden with Christ in God (Eph1:3; Col3:1-3)

  2. The Seed Is Different.

    -- Abraham's physical seed refers to Israel:

      Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, "In Isaac your seed shall be called" (Rom9:7)

    -- Abraham's spiritual seed refers to the church:

      Therefore know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham (Gal3:7)

  3. The Births Are Different.

    -- Israel celebrated its birth at the base of Mount Sinai (Ex19-20)

    -- The church celebrated its birth at Pentecost (Acts 2). The author of Hebrews brings out the great contrast between these two entities (Heb12:18-24)

    -- Israelites became what they were by physical birth.

    -- Believers become what they are by spiritual birth.

  4. The Nationality Is Different.

    -- Israel belonged to this earth and to the world system.

    -- The church is composed of all nations and has no citizenship on Earth; its members are strangers and pilgrims:

      Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul (1Pet2:11)

  5. The Relationship With the Father Is Different.

    -- God is never presented as the Father of individual Israelites in the Old Testament.

    -- God is presented as the Father of all New Testament believers:

      For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, "Abba, Father" Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him (Rom8:15; 1Jn3:1)

    -- Israel is now under God's judgment:

      But to Israel he says: "All day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and contrary people." just as it is written: "God has given them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see and ears that they should not hear, to this very day" (Rom10:21;11:8)

    -- The church is free from all present judgment:

      And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (Col2:13-15)

      [vw: interjection... The [C]hurch is free from judgment, but the [c]hurch is under condemnation, as seen in Revelation chs2-3 with 5 of the 7 churches :]

    -- Israel was God's servant:

      But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the descendants of Abraham My friend (Isa41:8)

    -- The church, each born-again believer, is God's son:

      But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children [sons] of God, to those who believe in His name (Jn1:12; cf 1Jn3:1)

  6. The Relationship With the Son Is Different.

    -- Israel is pictured as an unfaithful wife:

      They say, "If a man divorces his wife, and she goes from him and becomes another man's, may he return to her again?' Would not that land be greatly polluted? But you have played the harlot with Many lovers; Yet return to Me," says the LORD. "Return, 0 back-sliding children," says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. Surely, as a wife treacherously departs from her husband, so have you dealt treacherously with Me, 0 house of Israel," says the LORD (Jer3:1,14,20; cf Isa54:1-17; Ezk16:1-59; Hos2:1-23)

    -- The church is pictured as a chaste virgin bride yet to be married in heaven:

      For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. "Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, - Write: "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God" (2Cor11:2; Rev19:7-9)

    -- Christ was a stumbling stone to Israel:

      But we preach Christ crucificd, to the jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness. And "a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense." They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed (1Cor1:23; 1Pt2:8)

    -- Christ is the foundation and chief Cornerstone of the church:

      Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (Eph2:20-22; 1Pt2:4-5)

    -- Christ is Israel's Messiah and King:

      Nathanael answered and said to Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" (Jn1:49)

    -- Christ is the church's Savior, Bridegroom, and Head:

      For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body (Eph5:23)

  7. The Relationship With the Holy Spirit Is Different.

    -- The Holy Spirit rarely came upon individual Old Testament Israelites.

    -- The Holy Spirit actually lives inside each New Testament believer:

      Or do you not know? that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? (1Cor6:19)

  8. The Temple Is Different.

    -- Israel had a Temple:

      And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them (Ex25:8)

    -- The church is a temple:

      In whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord (Eph2:21)

The above contrasts should make it crystal clear that the church is not Israel. Paul carefully distinguished these two separate entities when he wrote, "Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks [Gentiles] or to the church of God" (1Cor10:32)

    "Before she was in labor, she gave birth; Before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children. Shall I bring to the time of birth, and not cause delivery." says the LORD. "Shall I who cause delivery shut up the womb?" says your God (Isa66:7-9)
At sunrise on May 14, 1948, Great Britain's flag, the Union Jack, was hauled down from its staff over Government House in Jerusalem. The presiding British high commissioner, Lt. Gen. Sir Allen Gordon Cunningham, then left the Holy Land for the last time amid a 17- gun salute. That same day, Jewish Agency Chairman David Ben-Gurion drove to 16 Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv -- a white, modern, two-story art museum. There, at exactly 4 p.m., before some 400 individuals who included Jewish religious and political leaders plus members of the worldwide press, he read Israel's Declaration of Independence. Britain's 28-year rule of the Holy Land would end at midnight, and the modern State of Israel would be born.

In an adjoining room, a symphony orchestra played "Hatikvah", Israel's national anthem, while people wept.

At 5 p.m. on that same day in New York City, the UN General Assembly hastily convened an emergency meeting to consider the war clouds due to unleash their fury in the Middle East at 6 p.m. New York time (midnight in Israel). The UN had one hour to do something.

Suddenly, an amazing and unexpected news bulletin arrived from Washington. President Harry S. Truman had bestowed official U.S. recognition on the new Jewish state. The time was 6:11 p.m. in New York, but six hours later in Jerusalem. The British Mandate had just expired. Truman thus recognized the Jewish state 11 minutes after it had come into existence. His message read as follows:

    This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the Provisional Government thereof. The United States recognizes the privisional government as the de facto authority of the new State of Israel.
Three days later, on May 18, Russia recognized Israel. Thus, for the first time since September 8, A.D.70, the Holy Land, by official Gentile action, again belonged to the Jews.


Grand Summary of these Two All-Important Days
Church Was Israel Was
Promised (Mt16:18)
Born (Ac2:1-4)
Established (Ac3-28)
Instructed (1&2Tim, Titus)
Divinely selected (Dt4:37;7:7;14:2 Ps33:12;89:3; 105:6 Is44:1;48:10,12 Rom9:4-5)
Church Is Israel Is
Espoused to Christ (2Cor11:2 Eph5:22-32)
Warned (2Pt2 Jude)
Divinely but temporarily rejected (Mt21:23,42 Rom11:5,25
Church Will Be Israel Will Be
Raptured (1Cor15:51-53; 1Th4:13-18)
Christ's bride (Rev19:7-9)
Reigning with Christ during the Millennium (Rev20:4-6)
Sharing the New Jerusalem with saved Israel (Rev21)
Divinely and permanently restored (Ac3:19-21; 15:14-18; Rom11:1,26-27)


God's Prophetic Time Out

The question is often asked concerning how the church fits into the prophecy of the 70 weeks in the book of the Jewish prophet Daniel. Here is that prophecy:

    Seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression; to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy. Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks,- the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times. And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself,- and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week,- but in the middle of the week He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate, even until the consummation; which is determined, is poured out on the desolate (Dan9:24-27)
Six questions must be answered:
  1. To whom does this prophecy refer?

    It refers to Israel.

  2. What is meant by the term seventy weeks?

    The expression literally means "seventy sevens of years." In other words, God told Daniel He would continue to deal with Israel for another 490 years before bringing in everlasting righteousness.

  3. When was the 70-week period to begin?

    It was to begin with the command to rebuild Jerusalem's walls. The first two chapters of Nehemiah inform us that this order was issued during the 20th year of Artaxerxes' accession. The Encyclopaedia Britannica sets the date at March 4, 444 B.C.

  4. What are the two major periods mentioned within the 70 weeks (490 years)?

    The first period was to consist of 69 weeks (483 years): from 444 B.C. to the crucifixion of Christ in A.D. 33.

    The second period was to consist of one week (seven years): from the Rapture to the earthly return of Jesus. Thus the 70th week of Daniel is, in reality, the Great Tribulation.

  5. Do the 70 weeks run continuously?
    That is to say, is there a gap somewhere between these 490 years, or do they run without pause until they are completed?

    Dispensational Theology teaches that these "weeks" do not run continuously and that there has been a gap, or parenthesis, of nearly 2,000 years between the 69th and 70th weeks. The chronology may be likened to a 70-minute basketball game. For 69 minutes the game is played at a furious, continuous pace. Then, for some reason, the referee calls time out with the clock in the red, showing one final minute of play. No one knows for sure when the action will resume; but at some point, the referee will step in and blow his whistle. At that moment the teams will gather to play out the last minute of the game.

    God stepped in and stopped the clock of prophecy at Calvary when Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for our sins. This divine "time out" has already lasted 20 centuries. But soon the Redeemer will blow His trumpet, and the final "week" (seven years) of action will be played on this earth.

  6. Does the Bible offer other examples of time gaps in divine programs?

    It does, indeed. There are at least three places where gaps of many centuries can be found in a single, short paragraph: Isaiah 9:6-7; 61:1-2; Zechariah 9:9-10.

Thus the answer to the original question is that the church has occupied that "timeout" period between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel's prophecy for the past 2,000-plus years.

from "Israel My Glory" (magazine) September/October, 2007
Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry (www.foi.org)

by Harold L. Willmington
Dean of the Willmington School of the Bible and
Liberty Home Bible Institute at Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA

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