Nov 1 2004
Question: Hank Hanegraaff states that “All the promises to Israel have already been fulfilled according to Joshua:21:43-45.” Is that correct?
Answer: Absolutely not. Even a superficial reading of the passage, along with minimal biblical knowledge and a little common sense, reveals the fallacy of this claim by so many who believe that the church has replaced Israel! Joshua:21:43-45 simply declares that all of God’s promises to Israel about giving her the land of Canaan had been fulfilled. But there are hundreds of other promises to Israel contained in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, et al., which were not even given until centuries after Joshua and, therefore, could not possibly have been fulfilled in Israel’s initial conquest of Canaan. Moreover, there were many other promises from God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob long before Joshua, which were not and could not have been fulfilled in Joshua’s day.
Consider God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “In thee [and in thy seed] shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gn 12:3; 26:4; 28:14),referring to the Messiah, who came more than 1,000 years after Joshua. And what of the promises of Messiah’s coming to redeem Israel and all mankind given to Israel by her prophets centuries after Joshua led Israel into the Promised Land? Surely their fulfillment was yet future in Joshua’s day. Indeed, the promise of redemption through the Messiah has not yet been completely fulfilled even today, as the gospel is still going out around the world.
God gave the land of Canaan to Abraham and to his seed “for ever” (Gn 13:15) by “an everlasting covenant” (Gn 17:7, 19; 1 Chr:16:17, etc.)for “an everlasting possession” (Gn 17:8)—and, by their very nature, it will take eternity to fulfill those promises. These (and many others) were promises for Israel and could never apply to the church, yet that is the claim of those who, like Hank, teach that God is finished with Israel and that the Great Tribulation occurred under Nero.
Hundreds of other promises were given to Israel centuries after Joshua’s day and thus could not have been fulfilled at that time: “the time of Jacob’s trouble… he shall be saved out of it” (Jer:30:7); two thirds of all Jews will be killed (Zec:13:8,9)—this, the worst tribulation that Israel and the world will ever have seen, must be “shortened [or] there should no flesh be saved” (Mt 24:21,22). Moreover, God promised Israel and David that his throne would be established “for ever” (2 Sm 7:12-16)in Jerusalem, which, though destroyed (Dn 9:26; Mt 24:2; Lk 21:6, etc.), would be restored (Jer:31:38-40; Ezk 37:26-28; Zec:14:11-16, etc.)—clearly not fulfilled in Joshua’s day, when Jerusalem didn’t yet belong to Israel.
None of the many promises God made long after Joshua died regarding Jerusalem could have been fulfilled at the time of Joshua:21:43-45. Jerusalem became the subject of numerous promises to Israel, which are still being fulfilled: “the city of God…God is in the midst of her” (Ps:46:4-5); “the joy of the whole earth…the city of the Lord of hosts…God will establish it forever” (Ps:48:1-8, etc.), “trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk 21:24). And what of the many prophecies that Israel would be scattered among all nations (Dt 28:64; Neh:1:8; Am 9:9, etc.), preserved and brought back (Dt 30:3, etc.), and that “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom:11:26)? Clearly, none of these had come to pass at the time Hank says all promises were fulfilled. Many promises are still future and could not possibly apply to the church but only to Israel.
And what of Jerusalem being made a “cup of trembling unto all the people round about when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” and “a burdensome stone for all people” (Zec:12:2,3)? And what of God making the governors of Judah like “a torch of fire in a sheaf [to] devour all the people round about” (12:6)and God bringing “all nations against Jerusalem to battle” (14:2), the Messiah returning to rescue Israel (12:9,10), every Jew being supernaturally brought back to Israel with not one left among the nations (Ezk 39:28; Mt 24:30,31)? And what of Christ establishing His rule over the earth on David’s throne, with Israel being fully restored to sinless fellowship with Him and to her land with endless peace (Is 2:1-5; 9:6-7; Ezk 34:11-16, 23,24; 36:8-12, 15, Zec:14:9-21)? These were all fulfilled at Joshua:21:43-45? Hardly!
The astonishing claim that all of God’s promises to Israel had already been fulfilled in Joshua’s day reveals the depths of the delusion that grips those who insist that Israel no longer has any significance in God’s purposes.