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The Church's Response to Israel's Judgment

Dr Daniel C. Juster, Director

In the coming months I will be traveling to Europe; to Austria, Germany, Holland, Ireland and England for 'Toward Jerusalem Council II' meetings. Toward Jerusalem Council II is an effort of Messianic Jewish leaders and Church leaders to see every Church stream repent of the history of institutional Church anti-Semitism and from the historic Church rejection of the Messianic Jewish communities from the second to the 7th centuries.

In addition, we are calling upon the broad church community to align themselves with the Messianic Jewish community and declare themselves with regard to their support for this restoration. Our board consists of significant and influential Church leaders and Messianic Jewish leaders from Israel and the United States. We have been working quietly behind the scenes since 1995. During those thirteen years we have been received by high level Church leaders who have aligned themselves with our vision; some represent thousands and some even tens of thousands of churches. I am privileged to be one of the founders of this effort that is now starting to acquire higher visibility and is presently establishing working groups in several regions of the world. We covet your prayers for this work.

It is in this context that I write concerning the Church's response to Israel's judgment. In Luke 19:41-44 Yeshua predicts the judgment that is to come upon Jerusalem. Yeshua declares that judgment is coming because that generation's leaders failed to recognize their time of visitation, that is; God's visitation through Yeshua. Their failure to respond correctly to Yeshua was without excuse. God provided tangible proof through Yeshua's authoritative teaching, confirming miracles and the ultimate testimony of His resurrection from the dead. On top of this, following the resurrection, the Apostles gave witness to these accounts. Though a significant minority embraced Yeshua, the great majority of our people followed the leadership of Israel in choosing to reject Yeshua.

The Fall of Jerusalem and Church Interpretation

The Fall of Jerusalem was a terrible event. The siege, the famine and the ultimate slaughter recounted by the Jewish historian Josephus describes devastation beyond imagination. Any sympathetic person would be brought to terrible grief by reading this account. No other single event except the Holocaust was responsible for a greater slaughter of Jews. Sadly, the Church responded to the fall of Jerusalem and the ending of the national life of Israel with gloating pride and vilification. The Church Fathers interpreted the devastation to mean that the Jewish people were finally and irrevocably rejected by God. This led to the idea that the Church had replaced Israel and was the new and true Israel. This idea is called "replacement theology." This replacement included the Messianic Jewish community, which had remained true to Jewish tradition and practice. They too were rejected by the larger Church that was by that time largely composed of Gentiles. This was the first great Church split which some believe led to many future splits and compromised the Church throughout history.

The Testimony of Scripture

The Church Fathers could have put Scripture above historical circumstances and based their theology on the clear statements of Romans 9-11. This passage states that the Jewish people, in spite of being enemies of the Gospel, are beloved because of the Fathers, that "the gifts and the calling of God (to Israel) are irrevocable" (11:29). This settles the issue. Israel has not been replaced but will yet come into her destiny and all of the promises to Israel will be fulfilled.

Jeremiah explains it so clearly: "Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for light by day and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar - the LORD of Hosts is His name - 'If this fixed order departs from before Me,' declares the LORD, 'then the offspring of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me forever.' Thus says the LORD, 'If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,' declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 31:35-37).

A Previous Precedent from Ezekiel

The Church Fathers could also have looked to an earlier precedent. There was a previous destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. We do not have a record similar to Josephus' narrative to describe it, but the prophetic predictions and descriptions in Jeremiah and Ezekiel describe devastation as horrible as the destruction perpetrated by the Romans. The nations around Israel gloated. They saw the desolation as their opportunity and were glad! In some ways their response paralleled that of the early Church. We find the most amazing texts in Ezekiel 25-28. The prophecy is given that one nation after another will be brought into judgment and destroyed because they gloated and did not grieve over Israel's destruction. Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Edom are singled out for great judgment:

"Son of man, set your face against the sons of Ammon, and prophesy against them, and say to the sons of Ammon, "Hear the word of the Lord God: Because you said, 'Aha!' against My sanctuary when it was profaned, and against the land of Israel when it was made desolate and against the house of Judah, when they went into exile, therefore I am going to give you to the sons of the east for a possession ... because you have clapped your hands and stamped your feet and rejoiced with all the scorn of your soul against the land of Israel, therefore behold, I have stretched out My hand against you, and I shall give you for spoil to the nations. And I shall cut you off from the peoples and make you perish from the lands; I shall destroy you. Thus you will know that I am the Lord." (Selections from Ezekiel 25:1-7)

Nearly four whole chapters of judgment upon the nations are followed by the promise at the end Ezekiel 28 of Israel's restoration and return:

"Once I have gathered the house of Israel from the peoples among whom they are scattered, once I have shown My holiness in them as the nations watch, then they will live in their own land, which I gave to My servant Jacob. They will have security when they live there, building houses and planting vineyards; yes, they will live in safety, once I have executed judgments against all their contemptuous neighbors. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God." (Ezekiel 28:25-25)

Judgment on the Church and Today's Oppertunity

Certainly the difficulties we see in Church history; the setbacks, the loss of the churches in the Islamic lands and more, can be traced in part to the Church's rejection of the Jewish people and the Messianic Jews. Great divisions came into the churches of these lands. The clear warning against arrogance given in Romans 11 was not heeded. Paul demonstrated the right attitude by grieving deeply and working tirelessly for the salvation and restoration of the Jewish people.

Today the Church is given a marvelous opportunity to repent and reverse the damage. Many are responding. This will be connected to amazing revivals and ultimately to the salvation of Israel. We are privileged to be involved in such a day of great hope for both Israel and the Church. As we see the Church turn toward Israel with prayer and support for Messianic Jewish ministries, we are seeing the beginning of a significant harvest in Israel. We also see great gains in the Church in many lands as the Body of Messiah returns back to the proper divine order.

By Daniel Juster


Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International. Donate to Tikkun International.

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Comments:
11:37 02Oct08 Karen -
This is true and I personally repented a few years ago for having been raised in error. Never again. Thank you for your work.

14:56 02Oct08 Pip Deverill -
Thank you for putting the case so succinctly, Dr. Juster. We should pray for the restoration of the Church's vision vis-a-vis Israel, so that "we all may be one" as Jeshua prayed.

15:14 02Oct08 Max Legg -
Thank you for your column. Living in the uttermost part of the world, it's hard for us to see the effect of this replacement theology on the Jews. To repent of the things you mention in your column, seems meaningless to us, as we have never seen Israel as not a vital part of God's plan . Not to mention, for us to repent, without first experiencing conviction is just religion. We have always loved Israel and prayed for that beautiful land and its people. We are grieved when Nations attack you, and terrorists slaughter your people. In such times we call our church to pray for you. We don't at all adhere to the notion that God has finished with Israel. My wife and I for the first time visited Israel last year and loved the place, and would be delighted to live there. So from my perspective as a New Zealander, I don't feel any remorse, or guilt for my attitude toward your great nation ... therefore, no need to repent. "You don't think you could be feeling a little paranoid about this so called attitude in the West ... that God has finished with Israel ... ?" The Bible doesn't say so, so what's the problem. I say, get on with making disciples for Jesus, and we will get on with supporting you. I hope I am not naieve, but all the Christians in our country wholeheartedly support and agree God has a mighty plan for you all in Israel ... Jesus is coming back there ... right??? Our troops and the Aussies drove the Turks out of Jerusalem in the last World War. All I know is, we are for you ... and will stand with you in prayer ... Shalom.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Well, dear brother, I am glad for your support and your sense that in New Zealand this is not a problem. However, John Dawson of YWAM has taught us that we usually can find connections for repentance. If you have Anglican heritage at all, then there are Catholic roots to it that were replacement. Also, in the Chrismatic world, replacement has made a comeback. This is true in America but also Australia. Hillsong people have some signifcant replacement orientations. However, since repentance is a change of mind and heart, what we affirm is more important than what we are sorry for. If only people would take the word more simply for what it says when it is possible to do so.

16:32 02Oct08 Curtis -
Thank you for your article and call to action on the part of the Church. We do owe apologies and a great debt to our Jewish brothers and sisters and especially those who are also part of the body of Christ as Messianic Jewish believers. I appreciate your faithful and balanced recapitulation of some of the history of Israel's judgments, including the gentile nations and the Church's grievious responses. I join with you to pray for healing and restoration. Hebrews 10:19-25

17:42 02Oct08 Nancy -
Dr. Juster, When I heard you speak two years ago in Van Nuys, CA, God was affirming my personal spiritual assignment which I have yet to fulfill. Along the Moselle and Rhine rivers I am intending to stand on the former sites of synagogues and bookburnings in order to repent 'for the history of institutional Church anti-Semitism and from the historic Church rejection of the Messianic Jewish communities from the second to the 7th centuries'. Your work through Jerusalem Council II meetings lifts my heart. I pray for the complete and satifactiory completion of your assignment. And I pray I will accomplish mine soon.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Our recent meetings in Europe were very helpful. We are getting a very encouraging response in Holland and Germany especially.

01:35 03Oct08 Janine McCaffrey -
I fully support your article - however, there are many Catholics now (usually around the 30-60 age group) who are pro-Israel and pro-Jewish. Unfortunately, the words of Paul in Galatians '...the new Israel of God' have in the past been interpreted as meaning that God had finished with the 'old' Israel, which is not supported by Scripture. (eg Jeremiah, as well as your own quotation)
I myself chose to work in Israel during 1973-1978 and learned Hebrew there. What a blessing and eye-opener. I subsequently heard Arnold Fruchtenbaum speak in Warsaw - the best ever explanation of the attempt of the evil one to destroy the Jewish people. I have just found a reference to his book "Israelology - the Missing Link in Systematic Theology", and look forward to reading it. Kol tuv, and you certainly have my prayers for your undertaking.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Do look at my book Jewish Roots as well. It gives a somewhat different theology than Arnold's. We know many committed believing Catholics who are with us.

03:42 03Oct08 Pauline Magogo -
It was an error before I knew it, but now I must move in the right pattern of God and be a voice for many others to move out of error. Thank you for being the new spiritual fathers who have received mantles and are moved by the anointing of God.

07:58 04Oct08 Yosef Tinney -
Excellent article sir. I love the Church. I love the people of the Most High who embrace Jesus. Yet my heart has always grieved for the resistance of a lot of the Church to the root of Church being ignored or casually mentioned. Also the resistance of many for the importance of the Holy Spirit and yielding to Him grieves me as well. Very few read and seek the importance of the statement from Yahshua " It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you." When one yields to the fullness of the Holy Spirit they will find the heart of the Father. By Grace I have sought Him and continue to seek Him, His heart and always find His Heart is with His First Love. The Jewish people.

23:10 05Oct08 James Wagner -
Wow - this is an excellent article which hopefully will put another nail in the coffin of "Replacement Theology". Thank you for it, and I am forwarding it to several Christian and Jewish friends. If it ever comes to a situation in which our government will not support Israel, whether due to the threat of Iran nukes or a cutoff of most of our foreign oil, I hope and pray that the Church (at least the "true" Bible-believing Church) will support Israel and the Jews, whether they yet believe that Jesus is the Messiah or not.

12:07 06Oct08 Molly -
As a student of the Bible and a Christian who prays regularly for the peace of Jerusalem and God's servants in Israel, I am greatly encouraged to read this article and will continue to pray for the success of Mr. Juster's mission. It is so evident in many ways that we are living in the "last days" and God is using His servants like Mr. Juster according to his plan. I was never taught Replacement Theology, but neither was I made aware of Israel's future until a study of Revelation in the 1980s and then later meeting and befriending some Messianic Jewish women in a Bible study. They introduced me to missionaries serving in Israel and I became even more interested in staying informed and encouraging others to pray for Israel and stay informed. I know many Christians who have a heart for Israel.

09:37 07Oct08 anon -
Superbly explained. I will use the outline of this article to explain replacement theology to my Catholic neighbors here in Italy! It was extremely illuminating to me, a Messianic Jew!

05:50 08Oct08 Pastor M.Kanmani Raj -
We love Jewish people because God has chosen Jewish people to show His love towards human kind by send the Lord Yeshua Jesus Christ. We love Jewish people; we pray for the peace for Isreal; we always be with Isreal.

05:45 27Oct08 Caroline Wanguku -
How in such times we need to understand the purposes of G-d for Israel and the Church - so that we usher in the revival with knowledge and understanding.

05:05 04Nov08 Julie Sujondo -
My comment is "Why Israeli ministries don't like to send their emissary to Indonesia?". As an Indonesian, I will be missing that they shared their teachings and ministry to my country although it is very impossible to as a human being but it is possible to do for the Lord Yeshua.

14:24 05Nov08 Mike Miller -
The fact that the 'Church' has rejected the Jewish people and the Messianic Jews will be a black-eye until we change not only our attitude, but our actions. There is no way, other than a working of the Holy Spirit, that we, the church community as a whole, will ever be able to show them the love and honor they so richly deserve.

10:02 06Jun09 Flor de lis Guerrero -
Thank for you column; my husband and I will pray every day for you. Since I was a small girl GOD taught me to love and I disliked it if people said something against ISRAEL and His people. Lately I have discovered that I am a descendent from Israelites, and now I understand why I have that strong love. I love Jewish people with all my heart. My husband, after searching for our older son, has also discovered that he too has Jewish background.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:

Moshe Morrison: Sukkot & the Incarnation
Eitan Shishkoff: Soldiers and Kibbutzniks: Heroes of the Golan
Summer Extreme - Youth Running Toward the Goal
A Dozen go Fishing by the Sea of Galilee