Dispensationalism and the Myth of Replacement Theology #6
In the previous two installments, #4 #5 we have seen how, in the Old Covenant promises that God made to Israel, He promised to “replace” the Old Covenant with the New, to replace the Old Covenant priesthood with the new, to replace the Old Covenant temple with the new. Remember that the Dispensationalists decry the idea of “Replacement Theology” and yet, in just the few verses we have examined so far, there can be no doubt that God Himself foretold the “replacement” of certain Old Covenant realities and praxis. Thus, “replacement theology” in that sense, can hardly be a bad thing, for it was the will of God; it was inherent in His promises to them! But there is an interesting phenomenon here.
Remember that the Dispensationalists point the accusing finger at non-Millennialists for saying, as Riddlebarger and Boettner (cited earlier) suggest, and that is that Israel failed, and because of that failure, God started all over on Pentecost with a new set of promises to brand new entity, the church. But remember, that is precisely what the Dispensationalists say happened! They say God offered the kingdom to Israel, but Israel rejected the offer. Thus, due to Israel’s failure, God withdrew the offer and created a new thing, never foretold, called the church, and gave the church a totally different set of promises from those given to Israel. We say again therefore, that while the Dispensationalists decry “Replacement Theology” they are themselves guilty of teaching it, in spades!!
It is critically important is to see how the New Testament writers interpreted those Old Covenant promises made to Israel cited above, and a host of others. Remember that we have shown above that the Dispensationalists claim that the church and nothing about the church, was foretold by the OT prophets, and that God’s promises to Israel did not, in any way, include the promise of the church. We have shown that to be false.
Inserted note: Since this series will be turned into a book, I am omitting a good bit of material that will be in the book, for brevity sake. If all goes well, the book on Replacement Theology will be out this year (2015). At least that is the goal.
We will continue now with a (abbreviated) look at another passage that predicted the “Replacement” of Old Covenant Israel:
Thus says the Lord: “As the new wine is found in the cluster, And one says, ‘Do not destroy it, For a blessing is in it,’ So will I do for My servants’ sake, That I may not destroy them all. I will bring forth descendants from Jacob, And from Judah an heir of My mountains; My elect shall inherit it, And My servants shall dwell there. Sharon shall be a fold of flocks, And the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, For My people who have sought Me. “But you are those who forsake the Lord, Who forget My holy mountain, Who prepare a table for Gad, And who furnish a drink offering for Meni. Therefore I will number you for the sword, And you shall all bow down to the slaughter; Because, when I called, you did not answer; When I spoke, you did not hear, But did evil before My eyes, And chose that in which I do not delight.” Therefore thus says the Lord God: “Behold, My servants shall eat, But you shall be hungry; Behold, My servants shall drink, But you shall be thirsty; Behold, My servants shall rejoice, But you shall be ashamed; Behold, My servants shall sing for joy of heart, But you shall cry for sorrow of heart, And wail for grief of spirit. You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name; So that he who blesses himself in the earth Shall bless himself in the God of truth; And he who swears in the earth Shall swear by the God of truth; Because the former troubles are forgotten, And because they are hidden from My eyes. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create; For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing, And her people a joy. I will rejoice in Jerusalem, And joy in My people; The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her, Nor the voice of crying” (Isaiah 65:8-17).
Paul, Isaiah 65 and Replacement Theology
Take note of the key elements of this important eschatological prophecy.
☞ – It is important to honor the fact that in Romans 10:20-21 Paul quotes Isaiah 65:1-2, verbatim, to speak of Israel’s unbelief and the resultant calling of the Gentiles. Thus, there can be no question about the time of the fulfillment of Isaiah 65! In addition, But, Paul was calling the Gentiles into the body of Christ – the church. So, since Paul, through inspiration, said Isaiah 65 foretold the calling of the Gentiles and the rebellion and judgment of Israel, it is prima facie proof that in the OT, God did in fact predict the church, the calling of the Gentiles, and the “rejection” of the majority of the nation – and that was a promise made to Israel!
☞ – The prophecy foretold the salvation of the remnant (v. 8). In Romans 9-11 Paul says the salvation was being saved in his day, and even through his ministry. He also said that the last days work of the salvation of the remnant would not be a long drawn out process: “For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth.”
☞ – YHVH accuses Israel of filling the measure of their fathers’ guilt (v. 6-7). On this topic, there can be no doubt about the time and the framework of fulfillment according to Jesus in Matthew 23. Israel would finally fill the measure of her sin, by killing him and the apostles and prophets that he would send. Thus, like Paul in Romans 10, Jesus posits the fulfillment of Isaiah 65 for his generation.
☞ – The Lord promised to “slay” Old Covenant Israel: “The Lord God will slay you…” (V. 13)! I suggest that Galatians 4:22f and 2 Thessalonians 1serve as direct commentary on Isaiah 65. See my book, In Flaming Fire, in which I discuss this connection.
☞ – The Lord promised to create a New People, and, give that New People a New Name: “You shall leave your name as a curse to My chosen; For the Lord God will slay you, And call His servants by another name”
So, the Lord promised to destroy Old Covenant Israel, to create a New People, and to give that New People a New Name! If this is not a Biblical doctrine of “Replacement Theology” then quite frankly, I do not know what you would call it! (We will develop this text further in the upcoming book).
Notice that there is here no promise of a distinction between Gentile promises and Jewish promises. These are promises to Israel! And yet, it is undeniably true that God promised to replace her Old Covenant form with a New People with a New Name!
As we have stated earlier, this is both a good news and a bad news situation. It would be a horrific end to the nation – “the Lord God will slay you.” But, flowing out of that horror would be the New Creation, in a New Covenant relationship, where righteousness and life would abound!
So, in conclusion of this installment, we find indisputable testimony, from the Old Testament, that God promised Israel, (for centuries!) that He would one day “replace” them, with a New People, an inclusive people, a people identified by grace, not ethnicity. We have likewise seen how Paul applied this great prophecy to his day, to his ministry of calling the Gentiles into the body of Christ. For Paul, the calling of the Gentiles was the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, but, he was calling both Jew and Gentile into the body of Christ, the church!
Paul’s application of Isaiah – not to mention Peter and John’s – totally falsifies the Dispensational rejection of the Biblical “Replacement Theology” in which they dichotomize between God’s promises to Israel and God’s promises to the church. The church was the promise to Israel, intended all along to replace the restricted, Torah-Bound, ethnic people. There is a true “Replacement Theology” in scripture, but it is not the myth of the Dispensational paradigm. More to come!!