God’s new covenant, with Jew and Gentile, is through His Son Jesus Christ. His covenant made with Abraham also still stands. Christians have not replaced Israel. This false, Replacement Theology is gaining a lot of support in the Christian community. There is one nation that is the apple of God’s eye, and that nation is Israel.
“For thus says the LORD of hosts; After his glory has he sent me unto the nations which plundered you: for he that touches you touches the apple of his eye.”
He will return to Israel and save His people in the last days. The Jewish people and especially Jerusalem have been under attack since the time of Jacob. This promise that God made to Abraham has not been revoked because Jesus came. He came to fulfill law, not to change it.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah.”
He did not say the Jewish people were not part of this new covenant (New Testament), and He did not say His covenant with Abraham was broken. The Jewish people will be restored by the new covenant. Moses predicted the Jewish people would not be able to follow the numerous and strict laws God commanded; he knew they would break God’s law. The Jewish people broke the covenant, not God. But they are still God’s people and Israel is still His holy place, His land! God’s covenant with Abraham is ETERNAL!
Moses said of the Jewish people “Yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this very day.”
But he also said:
“And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.”
Jeremiah said of future Israel and the Jewish people: “I will put my law in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Ezekiel said of future Israel and the Jewish people: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
The Bible also specifically talks of the restoration of Israel. Christians have not replaced the Jewish people, and they are not the New Jerusalem; but they will worship the Lord together with Jews in New Jerusalem. God says many times that He will restore Israel and the Jewish people, He will give them new hearts, and their new hearts will open their eyes to the Messiah.
“Since the day that I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I chose no city in all the tribes of Israel in which to build a house, that my name might be there, and I chose no man as prince over my people Israel; but I have chosen Jerusalem that my name may be there and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.”
God has considered Jerusalem the UNDIVIDED Capital of Israel since the reign of King David. You can hardly dig at new construction sites in Israel without finding ancient evidence of the Jewish people.
The Jewish people were the first Christians, so why do Christians today not share the gospel with the Jewish people? This is wrong. Jesus himself was Jewish, so what happened? He said to spread His good news first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. He didn’t say to stop sharing, but He did say there would be a hardening of their hearts. God can break that hardening, and God will break that hardening. God didn’t say spread His message to the world except to the Jews. There are too many calling themselves Christians that have a hardening against the Jewish people as well. This is not biblical.
Evangelical Christians feel included among the Israelis, and rightfully so. Paul told us, “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring.” We are grafted into God’s promise to Abraham through the root of David, Jesus Christ.
After the temple’s destruction and Jews were once again scattered, Christians felt the Jewish people were being punished by God for rejecting Jesus. Paul, more than any other apostle, showed the differences in Judaism and Christianity. He did not believe Christians needed to become Torah-following Jews in order to receive Christ. Some of the apostles argued the point with Paul.
Jesus said the Pharisees cared more for their laws and traditions; we know this today as the Talmud. They cared more for outward appearances; but Jesus called them a brood of vipers, liars and hypocrites.
“For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
The first Christian to be murdered for not denying Jesus is Stephen. When Stephen was surrounded by angry Jewish men, he not only refused to deny Jesus but he lectured the Pharisees on exactly who they crucified. He reminded them of what God said:
“Heaven is My throne,
And earth is My footstool.
What house will you build for Me? says the Lord,
Or what is the place of My rest?
Has My hand not made all these things?”
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the God of the entire world, all things in it, above it and below it. His spirit dwelled in the temple until His Son finished all things He was sent to do. The root of David was sent to save man from himself.
Stephen went on to say, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute?”
When they heard Him, they became furious. We then get our first mention of the feared persecutor Saul.
“Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.”
Stephen said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep.”
“Stephen was stoned to death for blasphemy against God. Imagine his surprise at seeing Saul in heaven. I imagine that he would be shocked finding out Saul became one of Christ’s greatest messengers – that Saul converted on the road to Damascus and spread the gospel all over Rome – no idea that Saul himself was executed for Jesus Christ.
This alone shows the magnitude of God’s forgiveness and love for us. Many mistakenly think Saul was renamed by God after he became a Christian. In one verse we read “Saul, who was ALSO Paul;” it was from that verse onward where he is referred to as Paul.
Saul was most likely named after King Saul, from the tribe of a Benjamin. Benjamin was the only son of Jacob to be born in the Promised Land. The Holy City of Jerusalem is situated in land that has been given to the tribe of Benjamin.
The Roman version of his name was simply “Paul” – just as Joseph in English is Jose in Spanish; it was that simple. By being called Paul, but also of strict Jewish descent, he was probably more likely to be received by the Gentiles too. His Roman heritage came in handy throughout his ministry.
When Paul began to follow Jesus Christ, he didn’t abandon his Jewish faith. When Jesus was baptized with The Holy Spirit, neither did he. He still went to temple and synagogue. Paul went to the temple after returning to Jerusalem. The apostles all still kept their dietary laws. It seems that the first apostles of Jesus had a hard time separating their Jewish faith and traditions from their newfound faith of Christianity.
The apostles debated things such as circumcision, such as whether or not a Gentile had to circumcise his flesh in following Jewish laws and customs. These apostles walked with and loved Jesus, but even they had a hard time separating Judaism and Christ’s message.
It was Paul who argued that Gentiles were not required to be circumcised in order to be followers of Jesus. Paul had an understanding that if Christians simply converted to Judaism, Christ’s message is lost. He came to save all men, Gentile and Jew! Gentiles throughout Rome were not going to convert to Judaism. Instead of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob being strictly the Jewish God, He now became everyone’s God. Through the Jewish people’s rejection, we received Him.
Christians and Jews in the beginning were united in worship of the one true God. After the destruction of the temple, Christians and Jews began to separate. But today, once again, Jews all over are beginning to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.
“Was anyone called while circumcised? Let him not become uncircumcised. Was anyone called while uncircumcised? Let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called.”
Paul called himself a Hebrew among Hebrews. He identified with and embraced his Jewish upbringing. He was not only a Jew but a Roman citizen, which afforded him many opportunities. He was well-spoken and literate. As a Roman citizen well-versed in Greek culture, he could share the gospel across the Hellenized world. He was also a Pharisee, strictest of the Jews in Mosaic Law.
If he hated Christians, he most assuredly hated Jesus. Jesus asked him on the road to Damascus why he was persecuting HIM, not His followers. Jesus warned us that we would be persecuted because of Him, hated because of Him. Paul was the man that helped hunt Christians down but ended up becoming one of the greatest apostles of Christ.
Paul said of Himself, “For I am the least of the apostles, who am not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.”
After several missionary trips, Paul was warned against going to Jerusalem. He was told he would be found and delivered to the Gentiles, which could only mean the Romans. But Paul, just as Stephen years before him, had no fear. Those with him tried to persuade him not to go. He replied to the warning,
“What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
They left his fate in God’s hands. “So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, ‘The will of the Lord be done.’”
Paul was in fact arrested, and he requested a hearing in front of Caesar. As a Roman, he had that right. Not only was he a Roman citizen but he was BORN a Roman. When the Roman guards heard they had arrested a Roman citizen, they became afraid.
Paul made mention to the centurion that while he purchased his citizenship, he himself was born Roman. He was under house arrest awaiting a trial in front of Caesar. In Acts, as Paul listed the charges against him, we learn that Paul spoke of Jesus with such passion and love that Herod Agrippa said the following: “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
Herod Agrippa’s grandfather was King Herod the Great. He was responsible for the “Massacre of the innocents.” In an attempt to murder Jesus and to secure his crown, King Herod had all baby boys under the age of two slaughtered. (It’s worth noting he was also an Edomite. I wrote a previous article on exactly who the Edomites were.)
Herod Agrippa, on the other hand, was loved by the Jewish people according to historian Josephus. But here he is telling Paul that he was almost convinced of the divinity of Jesus.
Just prior to Herod Agrippa telling Paul he was almost persuaded to become a Christian, Paul had said something interesting:
“For I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention since this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”
Jesus did not do all these things in a corner. He made such a loud noise with His message that the Pharisees wanted Him executed. More on this later.
So why do the Jewish people not realize Jesus is Messiah? Because the Jews have been Blinded, for our sake, and they don’t even recognize it.
Paul’s message in Rome is what unites both Gentile and Jew to the one true God. But even the disciples that walked with Jesus still had a hard time accepting Gentiles as themselves.
“Go to this people and say:
‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand;
And seeing you will see, and not perceive;
For the hearts of this people have grown dull.
Their ears are hard of hearing,
And their eyes they have closed,
Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.
“Therefore let it be known to you that the salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will hear it!’ And when he had said these words, the Jews departed and had a great dispute among themselves.”
Paul preached that there was one God, but with a difference in what the disciples were preaching. Salvation for Gentiles was simple. Believing in and confessing Jesus as Savior, who forgives through His shed blood, replaced observance of the Mosaic Law. This angered many Jews. According to Paul, Gentiles were not commanded to be circumcised, weren’t required to follow dietary laws, and weren’t bound by the laws of Moses.
Without this division, Christianity would have remained Judaism; but it would have died off considering the very people that taught the Law of Moses didn’t believe in Jesus as Messiah. Romans were not going to convert to Judaism, but they did however believe and accept Jesus as the Messiah. They began to convert in droves with Paul’s preaching.
Later in his life, around the time Emperor Nero had him executed, Romans were converting to Christianity so fast that Nero couldn’t kill them quickly enough. The more you killed them, the faster the religion spread. The faster the religion spread, the further it drifted from its Judaic roots. Nero, who tried to wipe out all of the Christians in Rome, ended up executing two of Christ’s greatest messengers, Peter and Paul.
Dionysius, the bishop of Corinth, in his epistle to the Romans, said, “You have thus by such an admonition bound together the planting of Peter and of Paul at Rome and Corinth. For both of them planted and likewise taught us in our Corinth. And they taught together in like manner in Italy, and suffered martyrdom at the same time.”
Nero began the brutal persecution of the people from this new “cult” called Christianity. First century historian Tacitus, who was not a fan of the Christians, said the following of Nero:
“Besides being put to death, they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clothed in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual.”
This was only thirty years after Jesus was crucified. These people weren’t willingly dying and being torn apart by dogs on a “maybe” or an “if.” Thirty years after His crucifixion, people that saw Him, heard Him and touched Him were still alive. Parents probably told children, and neighbors shared stories with passersby on the Roman roads.
Had He been crucified and never heard from again, Christianity wouldn’t have survived thirty years let alone 2,000 thousand years. Thousands of people would not willingly die for Him just decades later if they didn’t truly believe or weren’t sure. I remember 30 years ago in my life. If a man like Jesus walked the earth in our lifetime, we’d know about it, just as the people in the first century did.
When Jesus came, EVERYTHING was timed to perfection. The people were ready to hear His message, Gentile and Jew. The Greek Empire brought a universal language, much like English is today. The Roman Empire brought the famous straight roads that went all over Rome, for thousands of miles.
It was said that “all roads lead to Rome,” and they did. Right outside of the entrances to Rome, there were roads going in different directions that crossed paths with other roads throughout the Empire. These roads brought the people to large cities, trading routes and even small villages. These roads were instrumental in sharing the gospel.
Everything God does is about timing and for a reason. He knew when to send His Son and when the world would be ready for His message. He knew when the time would be right for His people to return to their nation, and He knew when the time was right to officially move our embassy.
I’ve often wondered how it was possible for Jesus and Paul to have never crossed paths or for Paul not to have known who He was. The Pharisees are those who arranged for the arrest of Jesus. Jesus called the Pharisees out, calling them hypocrites. I’m convinced that because it’s not mentioned doesn’t mean he didn’t know who Jesus was when He walked the earth. Paul was admittedly angry for God. He hated heresy and blasphemy. He was strict in his Jewish faith; how could he NOT have known who Jesus was?
Jesus was in Jerusalem during Passover, as most Jews were since it was customary. Since Paul was a Pharisee, he would have more than likely went to the temple. Jesus had enough of a following that Paul would have heard something about Him. No?
The Bible recounts one scene where Jesus overturns the tables outside of the temple. Surely something that bold by a man with a following would have reached Paul.
The Bible is clear many times that this was the custom that the Jewish people kept. Here we see that, even as a child, Jesus followed this custom on Passover.
“Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom. And when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem.”
In the movies, they always show Paul as an old man, but he would have been close in age to Jesus. Paul said his zeal for the Lord caused him to persecute Christians. It almost seems impossible that he never encountered or at least heard of Jesus, before his blindness. As a Pharisee, whose father and grandfather were Pharisees, he certainly would have known about a new religion springing up in Jerusalem.
There is evidence of how educated in the Law of Moses Paul really was. Before his conversion, some of the apostles were arrested and stood before the Pharisees and Sadducees, accused of heresy.
“A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.”
“And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest you even be found to fight against God.”
Later, in the book of Acts, Paul describes himself this way: “I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today.”
There is a lot known about the man Gamaliel, and not just from the Bible. He was indeed respected and was listened to by the Jewish people. He was one of the leading Jewish scholars of his time. He was also from the tribe of Benjamin.
This is who taught Paul since childhood. There was nobody more strict in the Jewish faith than Paul – none that hated the Christians more than Paul. God unhardened his heart, removed his blindness and made him new. His blindness on the road to Damascus represents spiritual blindness of the Jewish people.
There are dozens of verses in the Bible showing the Pharisees plotting, planning and talking together regarding Jesus. The bigger question is, how could Paul NOT have known who Jesus was?
As he shared the gospel in Jerusalem, many were shocked. Wasn’t this the man that had such zeal for God, that he hunted these Christians down?
“And immediately he proclaimed Jesus in the synagogues, saying, ‘He is the Son of God.’ And all who heard him were amazed and said, ‘Is not this the man who made havoc in Jerusalem of those who called upon this name? And has he not come here for this purpose, to bring them bound before the chief priests?’”
Imagine how many “zealots for God” possibly began to believe in Jesus as the promised Savior because Paul believed!
Christians believe the temple, or the Holy Spirit, is within each one of us, whereas the Jewish people are still mourning their lost temple. To the Jewish people the temple was everything. God’s Holy Spirit dwelled inside the temple.
Instead of embracing Jesus after their temple was destroyed, they embraced their strict laws and traditions even more so, exactly what Jesus accused the Pharisees of. The outside of the cup is cleaner than the inside. Not only did they embrace more tradition and law, they further rejected Jesus.
After the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the Jewish people went almost 2,000 years without a homeland. They became a nation just as the U.S became a real super power after WW2. Though they were without a nation, there has always been a Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
The U.S and Israel are NATURAL allies. They are allied by the God they keep. Paul’s spreading of the gospel to the Gentiles forever bridges the gap between Christian and Jew. Israel’s Islamic neighbors do NOT worship the same God as Christians and Jews. This is a lie spread by the leftist anti-Christian movement.
As we get closer to the return of the Messiah, the Jewish people are becoming more accepting of Jesus as Messiah. The world’s largest Christian nation, which is the world’s largest super power, is aligned with Israel, the apple of God’s eye. There are dark days ahead, but this alliance will remain unshakable thanks to people like Nikki Haley. If God is for you, who can be against you?
God said “I will make thee a burdensome stone” when speaking of Israel. There is one nation willing to bear that stone with Israel, and that is the U.S.
As Christians, we also will sit with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Together, Jew and Gentile, we will stand with King David.
“We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
“But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8).