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Disputing Replacement Theology - Jeremiah 3

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Pre-Christian anti-Semitism:  Disputing Replacement Theology

"Jeremiah 3:  Did God Divorce His Own People?"
by Mikael Knighton
Christians Standing with Israel

Reading What We Want to Read, and Forgetting the Rest

One common denominator we've found when considering the positions and discourses from opponents of biblical, Christian Zionism, like disputing replacement theologyStephen Sizer, is their immediate willingness to suggest an error, on behalf of Christian Zionist advocates, in the interpretation of Scripture, although.  Exceedingly vexing are those who would assume prominent, leadership roles in our churches whilst injecting a non-biblical, false doctrine into the Body of Christ. Undoubtedly, the forerunner of man's false doctrine is the inaccurate, liberal interpretation of Scriptural text through which the underlying message assumes the pattern of his personal convictions.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." 2 Tim 4:3-4

A "loose" interpretation of Scripture gives the reader a little room in which to operate, as it were, whilst in the discernment phase of study. Quite literally, it is a personally-desirable, albeit spiritually-unfavorable position in which to exist when we are free to conform the Word of God to what we would like to believe; to what sounds and feels good. In so doing, we allow Scripture to become led by our beliefs, when, in fact, our beliefs should be led by Scripture. When we "mold" and "conform" the Word of God to what we, in our feeble, little minds, opine and define as "truth", fully-customizable to our agendas, we neither require nor revere the One and Only Truth. In so doing, we presumptuously assume our ways are that of God's:

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord.  'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."  -  Isaiah 55:8-9

When what we know as "Truth" is humanly-perceived, rather than biblically-received, we forfeit that which guarantees the Light in which we walk will keep us from darkness. In the absence of the Light, our penchant for "listening" to what we'd rather hear, as opposed to what we'd better hear from the Word of God will ensure the emergence of "humanly-inspired" Scripture--the spiritual "breeding grounds" for false doctrines and teachings. The "word of man", unlike the Word of God, is spiritually-impotent. It is incapable of reaching a lost world.

Our Lord, in His Grace and Wisdom, has equipped us with His divinely-inspired Word and His Holy Spirit--both of which serve to teach and counsel; yet neither of which require addition nor subtraction. The Word and the Holy Spirit are mutually-inclusive, for one is needed to accurately discern the other. Through prayer and the Will of the Father, the Holy Spirit will equip each of us, independently, with different Giftings--many of which play a pivotal role in the accurate, biblical discernment of Scripture. The gifts of the Holy Spirit will bear fruit that is of God.

A theological doctrine solely predicated upon the liberal, "customizable" interpretation of Scripture is the pathway to false, inaccurate discernment--the begetter of false teaching. When we court the former, we inevitably shall be held accountable for the latter.

Ultimately, the licentious interpretations of today sire the fallacious presentations of tomorrow.

Disputing Replacement Theology:  Did God "Divorce" His Own People?

A cornerstone of Replacement Theology doctrine is their assertion stating "the Old Testament nation [Israel] was divorced by God.", referring to the following passage found in the book of Jeremiah:

"Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce..." (Jeremiah. 3:8)

Disputing Replacement Theology would be very difficult if there were only eight verses in the third chapter of Jeremiah. Here we see yet another manifestation of biblical ignorance--the "picking and choosing" of Scriptural text so that its meaning conforms to an "agenda". Most unfortunately, false doctrines such as Replacement Theology have been forged by this erroneous practice.

Even so, it could be considered somewhat "reassuring" to find the opponents of Replacement Theology delving into the third chapter of Jeremiah. Most disheartening is their insistence in stopping at verse 8. For it is in the third chapter of Jeremiah that we find yet another piece of biblical evidence showing God's faithfulness to the Jewish people--the people whom He foreknew. Moreover, this particular book is one of many examples found in Scripture illustrating not only God's unconditional faithfulness and divine mercy toward the Jewish people, but of His command -- His Biblical Mandate--for Gentiles to support and minister to them. As we see in Jeremiah 3:15, this was a truth foretold.

Therefore let us continue in Jeremiah 3, past verse 8, where we find that God has not "divorced" His people. In fact, we will soon find that the "marriage" remains very much alive. Forged by the perfect Will of God; excluded by the ignorant "will of man", Jeremiah 3 continues:

"Return, backsliding Israel', says the LORD;
'I will not cause My anger to fall on you.
For I am merciful,' says the LORD;
'I will not remain angry forever.
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the LORD your God,
And have scattered your charms
To alien deities under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,' says the LORD.
Return, O backsliding 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.
And I will give you shepherds according to My heart,
who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased
in the land in those days,' says the LORD,
"that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.'
It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it,
nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.

At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD,
and all the nations shall be gathered to it,
to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem.
No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. (Jer. 3: 12-17)

Replacement Theologians assert that God's Promises to and Covenant with the Jewish people were "conditional" upon their repentance, obedience and faith. To support their assertion, you'll find the following verse, also from Jeremiah 3, in most of their arguments:

Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against the LORD your God,
And have scattered your charms
To alien deities under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice,' says the LORD. (Jer. 3: 13)

Once again, the Supersessionist interest in Jeremiah 3, as it pertains to biblically-supporting Supersessionist doctrine, stops after a singular verse. Once again, a further look at this book would facilitate a more clear, biblically-sound interpretation. In verse 18. the Lord continues to convey His prophetic Will through Jeremiah. As the following verse will show, a "backsliding" Israel did not annihilate their Covenant with God:

"In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers." (Jer 3:18, emphasis added)

Notice the added emphasis on the word, "shall". This is future tense. Its use is indicative of something that will take place at a later time, which coincides perfectly with Jeremiah's prophetic calling. Furthermore, notice the added emphasis on the words, "have given" -- a present perfect verb. Look again at this section of the aforementioned passage:

"they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers." (Jer. 3:18, emphasis added)

God's Promises are "Present Perfect"

If the promises found in the Abrahamic Covenant were, in fact, "conditional", a belief sacred to all Replacement Theologians, then it stands to reason that God "divorced" His people because they failed to meet the Covenant's "conditions". If God truly divorced the Jewish people because of their failure to adhere to a "conditional" Covenant, then the Replacement Theology claim that the Church is the new Israel -- the new and improved Chosen People of God -- would have merit. All of the time and efforts from Stephen Sizer (the vicar of ChristChurch and Replacement Theology's global point-man) in belittling the signficance of Israel as a Holy nation would be validated.

Not so fast, Steve.

A fundamental, doctrine-altering question remains: Why would God, in speaking through Jeremiah, illuminate a covenantal promise in the present perfect tense (read: "have given") to the Jewish people if His "certificate of divorce" rendered His promise permanently "null and void" earlier in the chapter? If such permanency were valid, as the erroneous doctrine of Replacement Theology contends, couldn't we logically infer the presence of a divine contradiction; in essence, a lie in Scripture? The "permanent" attribute, as it were, of God's divorce from the Jewish people would have merit if Jer. 3:18 were written in the past perfect tense, and subsequently read as follows:

they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I had given (or gave) as an inheritance to your fathers. (Emphasis added)

However, Jer. 3:18 reads quite differently, and for those arguing from the untenable position of Replacement Theology, presents a most annoying obstacle. And so, the question remains in the open, "Did Godkotel issue His people a permanent "certificate of divorce", or didn't He?" If He truly divorced -- that is, completely severed the relationship between Himself and the Jewish people, as is the cornerstone belief of Replacement Theology, then the "contradiction" stands, and God has essentially proven Himself as an unfaithful, untruthful God. If the above assertion were true, God will have proven Himself as a God who changes. Such a contradiction would essentially "blow wide open" the integrity of all Scriptural truths and promises as we know them. The "divinely-inspired" and "infallible" attributes of the Holy Scriptures would meet with a level of scrutiny and skepticism so intense the very promise of our salvation would come into question.

Ultimately, such circumstances would beckon the following questions: "If God would nullify His promises with His Chosen people, the Jews, what would stop Him from eradicating His promises to the Church? If the Abrahamic covenant were truly "conditional" in nature and, through Israel's backslidings, transferred to the Church, could the Church themselves produce a record of faithful adherence to the"conditions" found therein? Has the Church been that obedient over the millennia? May God ultimately forgive such an arrogant and ignorant assertion.

On the other hand, what if God is a Faithful God?

What if the Holy One of Israel is an omniscient God -- knowing beforehand the transgressions and backslidings of His people?

What if God is a God of forgiveness and mercy?

Are these not the fundamental character attributes of God? If we truly know God as such, then how is it we've failed to acknowledge His promises accordingly? Is our God a God who would intentionally facilitate a Covenant with a people He chose, label it "everlasting" and "irrevocable", only to back out of it at a later time when His people failed to live up to it -- a failure of which He knew beforehand?

A Divine Pattern: Perfect Judgement Followed by Perfect Deliverance

Through prophets, such as Jeremiah, God repeatedly warned His people of impending Judgment and Wrath -- consequences of their lack of obedience, repentance, and faith. However, these prophets also carried with them prophetic messages of God's love and divine mercy; messages of hope and promise. In Jeremiah 3, the Lord, speaking through the prophet, tells of a time when His people will weep as they turn from their sin. (Jer. 3:21) He tells of a time when they will acknowledge that, "Truly, in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel." (Jer. 3:23) Such a prophetic vision of perfect love brings to an end this chapter of Jeremiah.

"A voice was heard on the desolate heights,
Weeping and supplications of the children of Israel.
For they have perverted their way;
They have forgotten the LORD their God.

'Return, you backsliding children,
And I will heal your backslidings.'

'Indeed we do come to You,
For You are the LORD our God.
Truly, in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills,
And from the multitude of mountains;
Truly, in the LORD our God
Is the salvation of Israel.
For shame has devoured
The labor of our fathers from our youth--
Their flocks and their herds,
Their sons and their daughters.
We lie down in our shame,
And our reproach covers us.
For we have sinned against the LORD our God,
We and our fathers,
From our youth even to this day,
And have not obeyed the voice of the LORD our God." (Jer. 3, 21-25)

This installment will close by leaving the reader, with one final question:   If God truly "divorced" His children in Jeremiah 3, why would the prophet conclude it with a divine prophecy announcing their ultimate repentance and redemption?

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For more information on the history of the Church and Israel, please read The Theological Background of Christian Zionism.

 

 

 

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