Replacement Theology| Was the Mystery of God Foretold in the Old Testament?
In this series on Replacement Theology we have demonstrated that the Dispensational claim that the church was not foretold in the Old Testament is false. It cannot be overemphasized how critical this is in responding to the charge of Replacement Theology. If the church– the gospel of grace – the equality of Jew and Gentile in one body in Christ- was foretold in the Old Testament prophecies of Israel, then all pejorative references to Replacement Theology are totally wrong. So, with that in mind, take a look at just a few texts from the Tanakh that may have served as the source for the New Testament doctrine of the “mystery of God” i.e. Jew / Gentile equality in the body of Christ. Be sure to keep in mind that Paul stated emphatically that his doctrine of the mystery was found in the “prophetic scriptures” i.e. the Old Testament.
“The multitude of camels shall cover your land, The dromedaries of Midian and Ephah; All those from Sheba shall come; They shall bring gold and incense, And they shall proclaim the praises of the Lord. 7 All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered together to you, The rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you; They shall ascend with acceptance on My altar, And I will glorify the house of My glory.”
In this great prophecy we find not only the restoration of Israel scattered abroad (the Diaspora) but, we find the inclusion of the Gentiles, i.e. the nations, the goyim. Notice that the “Gentiles” are named – Midians, those of Ephah, Sheba, Kedar, Nabaioth. Now, make no mistake, these are not the twelve tribes!
Note that while the Midianites were of the “blood line” of Abraham, they were not of the twelve tribes. Remember that the Midianites were some of the people to be conquered by Israel! See the book of Joshua.
Likewise, Nabaioth was evidently Ishmael’s first born son (Genesis 25), but most assuredly not of the twelve tribes. Kedar is believed to have been the second son of Ishmael.
If Sheba is referent to the land of the Queen of Sheba, then clearly, those people were not of the twelve tribes.
So, while those named were not of the twelve tribes, special note must be taken that they would come to worship the true God. Not only that, they would, “Ascend with acceptance on My altar, And I will glorify the house of My glory.” This is stunning! Only Levi and his seed were– under Torah- to ascend the altar. Only they could offer acceptable sacrifices to YHVH!
Yet, here is a prediction of the time when those not of Levi, not of the tribes of Israel, would offer acceptable sacrifice! Is this “Replacement Theology”? Well, in one sense it is, but, it is the establishment of the priesthood of believers! Those not of the tribes of Israel would– in full equality– offer praise, sacrifice and worship to YHVH.
This was God’s plan! This is not “anti-semitism” or some misplaced Replacement Theology. In this great chapter, which by the way is a prediction of the New Creation (see verses 19f) those who were not of the twelve tribes of Jacob would stand on equal footing, with equal rights, equal privileges and equal blessings with those of Israel!
One wonders if perhaps this great prophecy lies behind Hebrews 13:15, where the writer urges his Jewish Christian audience– to “offer the sacrifice of praise to him, that is, the fruit of our lips.” They were not Levites. But, they could all, now, under Messiah, offer acceptable sacrifices! When we couple this fact together with the fact that the NT posits the Gentiles – those not of the seed of Abraham by the flesh- as those who could also offer acceptable sacrifice to God, then the “mystery of God” is fully established as having its roots in the OT. And there are other OT prophecies that either hinted at this, or overtly stated it. We will take a look at those in our next installment.
From this one example, however, it should be obvious that the pejorative charge of Replacement Theology is totally misplaced.