Israel And The Church - Part II
(This article was originally printed July, 2012.)
Romans 11:2, 15, 23, 30-31 - "God has not cast away His people which He foreknew. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again. For as you in times past have not believed, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy.”
All throughout history the church has tried to allegorically explain Romans, Chapter 11, to mean that the church is the remnant that replaced Israel. Through this deceptive and unscriptural error, the church missed one of its most important callings: the opportunity to truly bless Abraham!
THE GENTILE WORLD
The Gentile world, in a sense, received God’s mercy first because of Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ. It is now the responsibility of the church to demonstrate the mercy of God toward Israel, so that those who once did not believe may now do so.
America’s great prosperity can be directly linked to its spiritually rich sentiment towards lost souls, including the Jews. William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620 and proclaimed, “Come let us declare in Zion the Word of God.”
Although the 101 passengers that he arrived with were not Israelites and Israel was not their destination, the discovery of their New World also continued to foster the rediscovery of the Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Church had deemphasized the Old Testament, but starting with the Reformation, the Puritans saw the God of the Israelites as a covenant God. Bible phrases began to enrich the English language. Many clergy and laymen began to use biblical names for their children, such as Jesse, Sarah, Samuel, Rebecca, etc. The Puritans would seek for parallels in their persecution by recalling the Jews and their ancient faith.
A FREE NATION
The mid-18th century witnessed the Great Awakening. Revivalist faith spawned new churches, known as Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, etc. New learning institutions, such as prestigious Dartmouth and Princeton, were established to assist these new churches in the spreading of their doctrines. America began to look for a new millennium, one in which the old concept of predestination would be replaced with a fresh fervor toward individual salvation and evangelism. Jonathan Edwards encouraged this Great Awakening by embracing the idea that, “Every nation shall be a free nation.”
Matthew 5:14-16 was used as the motto for America to be “the light of the world.”
New America was not unlike the old tribes of Israel, according to Ezra Stiles, president of Yale University, who noted that the similarity of the number of Israelites at Mount Sinai was the population of the United States at the time of independence. Samuel Langdon, the president of Harvard University and a licensed minister, suggested that “instead of the 12 tribes of Israel, we may substitute the 13 states of the American union.” The image of those tribes crossing the wilderness to Canaan adorned the Great Seal of the United States.
America’s new mission was to save the world in a spiritual sense by preaching the gospel and in a political sense by promulgating freedom.
Commitments to service were given by those zealous to God for His protection. For example, the Haystack incident, led by Samuel John Mills, was made famous because Mills and five students hid in a haystack during an electrical storm, claiming their safety was a result of God honoring their confidence in Him.
Mills pledged, “We must not rest satisfied ‘till we have made our influence extend to the remotest corner of this ruined world.”
Word of the incident spread to Harvard, Brown, Middlebury, and Andover Theological Seminary, where both Levi Parsons and Pliny Fisk would study. The students would petition their churches for support to sponsor missionary efforts overseas. In 1810, church elders responded by establishing the American Board for Foreign Missions. The Middle East aroused the new board’s excitement.
The Puritans moved away from the old concept that Jews were eternally punished for not accepting Jesus Christ. Many believed that by repatriating the Jews back to their homeland, Christians would recreate the conditions for Jewish sovereignty that existed at the time of Christ, and this climate would set the stage for His glorious return. By the second Great Awakening, the idea of reinstating Jews back to Israel was quickly becoming accepted doctrine. Ezra Stiles believed that “the return of the 12 tribes to the Holy Land” would spark an outburst of spiritual energy sufficient “to convert the whole world.”
Many others would spend their wealth to assist in preparation for Jews to return home. Missionary journeys, like those of Pliny Fisk and Levi Parsons, would be launched with letters of accommodation by our government. The hope of Muslims either being converted to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ or utterly destroyed was also a driving factor. Increase Mather, Harvard’s first president, called the destruction of the Ottoman Empire an avenue for the Jews’ return.
AMERICA AT THE CROSSROADS
Today, virtually the entire world, including the United States, is pressuring Israel to divide her land and share real estate with terrorists whose only desire is her extermination. The denominational church world prefers to boycott Israeli products instead of supporting Israel. America is at a crossroad. A collapsing economy, government takeover of healthcare, financial reform, hate crime laws, illegal immigration infiltration, and so much more plague our country. When our nation was young and growing strong, our forefathers were busy preparing for the coming of the Lord by blessing Jews with the gospel. Part of that hope was to assist Jews in returning to their homeland. Now that the Jews are finally home, let us continue the tradition and help them stay there!