There has been a growing consensus within Christian theology students that God is finished with the nation of Israel. They believe either the church has replaced the nation of Israel or it is a spiritual form of Israel. From my study of Scripture, it seems abundantly obvious that God made promises to the nation of Israel that have not yet been fulfilled.
If God were finished with the nation of Israel, then one would have to conclude either God made a mistake in His promises to the nation of Israel or went back on His promises, which would make God fallible and a liar. Banish the thought! God doesn’t make mistakes and He doesn’t go back on His promises. God has a plan for both the church and the nation of Israel.
In Genesis 12, 15, 17 and 22 God promised Abraham several things:
- God would make from him a great nation (Israel)
- He would give this nation a land of their own, and He spelled out the boundaries of that land
- He would bless Abraham and this great nation
- He would bless those who blessed them and curse those who cursed this nation
- He would be a blessing through this nation to the rest of the world
God has kept His promises, but not all of those promises have been fully realized – yet. God did make Israel a great nation. We see the beginning of this recorded in the book of Exodus. Later when they were defeated by Assyria and Babylon, He brought them back as a nation as recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah. In more recent times God brought them back together as a nation in 1948 after 1,878 years of being dispersed throughout the world following their destruction by Rome in AD 70.
God gave them a land as recorded in the book of Joshua, but they didn’t have all the land that was promised to them. King David and King Solomon expanded the borders of the land in the books of 1 and 2 Samuel and 1 Kings, but they still never came close to having all the land promised to them. That has not yet been completely realized either.
This prophetic promise of God using the nation Israel in the later days is seen developed beginning in Daniel 9:24-27. Daniel prophesied that God planned on accomplishing His work through the nation of Israel in a 490-year period. He said He would accomplish the first 483 years of this promise from the time a decree was given to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem, with Artaxerxes in BC 444, until the promised Messiah was killed by Rome and Israeli authorities in AD 32-33. (Remember, Israel’s calendar had 360 days per year, not 365.25 days per year.)
After that, Daniel said there would be one more period of 7 years (a week of years) for Him to use the nation of Israel to accomplish all He planned through them. He tells us that amounts to 84 months, or 2,520 days. This is the same accounting we see in Revelation 4-18. Daniel said this last period will begin when the antichrist, the leader of the Western world, signs a 7-year treaty with the nation of Israel. This 7-year period is often referenced as the Great Tribulation, the time of Jacob’s trouble – a tribulation like the world has never seen. (More on the tribulation period later.)
In Joel 2-3 we see that by the end of this period, the entire nation of Israel will repent and turn to Jesus as their promised Messiah – from princes and priests to boys and girls. And in response to this, God will fulfill His blessing and restore all the Promised Land to them, a land flowing with milk and honey. And He assures them from that point forward they would never again be put to shame as a nation.
Paul acknowledges God is not finished with Israel in Romans 11 as he paints a picture of God’s rich, rooted plan to reach out to the world with hope and love, in spite of humanity’s wholesale rejection of Him. He instructs the church at Rome, and all believers of the church who would follow, that God has indeed cut off Israel from being His primary instrument to reach out to the world with God’s image, love and hope, but He makes the point that this is temporary, not permanent, and He will once again use Israel as His primary missionary force in the world.
This last promise is expanded on in Revelation 4-18 where we see the nation of Israel as the primary mission force in the world through the 144,000 witnesses (12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of the nation of Israel), who will lead innumerable people to faith in Christ, from every nation, tribe and tongue.
God has indeed blessed the nation Israel with the birth of the Jewish-born Messiah, Jesus Christ (as seen in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), and He has blessed the whole world through this incarnation. It is still promised that God will use them as the greatest missionaries the world has ever seen (Revelation 7:4-9). The nation Israel is still alive and well in God’s prophetic promised future. He is not finished with Israel yet.