Who Will Inherit the Holy Land?
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Dave, as you and our listeners who heard last week’s program know, our subject was the Church, and we discussed how the Church is a distinct entity from Israel, although the Church is comprised of Jews and Gentiles. Now, would you give us a brief review of how that is presented in the Bible?
Dave: Well, you could go to 1 Corinthians:10:32, where Paul says, “Giving none offense, neither to the Jew, nor to the Gentile, nor to the church of God.” So, you have three distinct entities. Before the cross, there were just Jew and Gentile. After the cross, there is Jew, Gentile, and the Church, which, as you said, is comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. We have that in Ephesians 2: “You in time past were Gentiles; you were aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers from the covenants of promise; but you, who were far off, He has made nigh through the blood of Christ, and He has broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile through the cross, and has made of twain,” that is, Jew and Gentile, “one new man, making peace.”
So then, it goes on and talks about, “We’re now all fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God. We are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” And in Matthew 16, Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church.” Well, if He was going to build His church, obviously it hadn’t been built before, so this was a new entity that was coming into existence because of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work upon the cross and His resurrection for us.
Tom: Now, last week we discussed Replacement Theology, and we found in the history of the Church, but also today, there are those out there who would say, “Look, for Israel, their time came when the Messiah came. They rejected the Messiah. Therefore, God has turned from the Jews to the Gentiles, and, therefore, the Church is Israel.”
Dave: That’s a Catholic doctrine, of course. The Catholic Church was the first, so far as I know, that came up with that idea, and that is consistently expressed throughout Catholic history. And Vatican II, for example, calls the Jews “the people formerly chosen by God,” and, over and over, Catholic documents say that the Roman Catholics are the new Israel, the true people of God. The Jews are finished! And, of course, that would explain, at least in part, the anti-Semitism, the slaughter of Jews down through history, the popes putting them in ghettos—they were the first to put them in ghettos and made them wear an identifying . . .
Tom: The term “ghetto”— we think of it today as part of our community that’s . . . with slums and so on, but this was really a term used to isolate the Jews from the rest of the society.
Dave: Absolutely. There was even the death penalty if a Jew married a Christian. Jewish physicians were not allowed to treat what they called “Christians”(Catholics).
So, this whole idea, of course, is not biblical because if God has done away with Israel, if Israel does not exist anymore, then we have the promises of God that are distinctly for an earthly people, that is, for Israel. God gave them a land, brought them into the land. When they disobeyed Him, He scattered them from the land. Anti-Semitism was laid out in detail. God promised He would preserve them; nevertheless, He would bring them back into their land, and on the throne of His father David, the Messiah would one day rule over Israel from Jerusalem—not over the Church! The Bible never says that Christ would rule on the throne of David over the Church.
And, you have that even in the expression of Gabriel to the Virgin Mary when he told her that she would be with child of the Holy Ghost, that she would give birth to the Messiah. And the angel Gabriel said, “On the throne of his father David he will rule forever and forever.” Or you have it in Isaiah:9:6-7, “Unto us a child is born, a son is given, the government will be upon his shoulder. His name . . .” “The government on His shoulder?” No, Christ is the bridegroom, and we’re the Bride of the Church. We’re His wife—we have that relationship in Revelation 19 very clearly stated, but here is, “The government will be upon His shoulder. His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, and of His kingdom and peace there will be no end.” And you have many verses . . . ! This was promised to David. You have this in 2 Samuel 7 and in many other places, in the Psalms, and so forth, that David would not lack an heir, the true heir, to rule from His throne forever; that there would be an eternal kingdom—you have it in Ezekiel 36, 37. You have the dry bones, you know, the valley of dry bones, and they’re brought together, and the promise that these people would be revived—they would be brought back into their land; that they would be a people in whose hearts God would write His law. You have the promise in Zechariah:12:10, “ . . . they will look upon me whom they pierced and they will wail, and Israel will turn to the Lord, and so forth.”
So, there is just no way to escape it. Now, if the Church has replaced Israel, then the promises of God have failed, because He made specific promises to Israel and this is rather serious. Not only has God gone back on His Word, or you would have to spiritualize this away. When do we begin to spiritualize about the land of Israel and the literal reign of the Messiah on the throne of David? That wasn’t spiritualized in the past. It certainly wasn’t spiritualized when God brought them into their land and David ruled on the throne there in Jerusalem. So, when did we begin to spiritualize this? You have to spiritualize it away, or we have pulled the rug out from under some of the most powerful proofs for the existence of God and that the Bible is His Word! I always go right to Israel, no matter who I am talking to—an atheist, or whoever it is—and I say, “Look, you cannot deny what God promised, what He said He would do. His prophets foretold it thousands of years before it happened! These are not cheap psychic predictions. These are history-making, world-shaping, world-shaking events foretold thousands of years in advance, and they have been fulfilled in Israel, and they are being fulfilled today.
“For example, Christ’s statement that Jerusalem would be trodden underfoot by the Gentiles, Luke:21:24, “until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. This is an ongoing prophecy, and to say that God has done away with Israel, you have denied God’s Word. You have made God a liar! You’re on Satan’s side, I’m sorry, because that is why anti-Semitism has pervaded history. Because if Satan could destroy the Jews, then God is a liar, He can’t fulfill His promises.”
Tom: The Messiah can’t come.
Dave: The Messiah couldn’t come, but even after the Messiah came and defeated him on the cross, if Satan could do away with the Jews today, the Messiah can’t return to His people and rule on the throne of His Father David! So, this is really serious rejection of God’s Word.
Tom: Dave, it makes it all the more incredible—you began by saying this idea of Replacement Theology began with the Catholic Church, but they have taken a back seat to what you’d call the Protestant church whether it be charismatic or even Reformed theologians, who are developing ideas like Kingdom Theology, Christian Reconstructionism—all of these ideas have to do with taking over the world, developing a theology which they call theonomy, in which the law is going to be applied, and we are going to transform the earth into a paradise so that Jesus can return.
Again, you cannot resolve that. You can’t make that work unless, as you said, you either throw the Bible out or you spiritualize it until it makes no sense anyway.
Dave: It began, as history makes clear, with Constantine, the Roman Emperor, who gave freedom to Christianity and became the de facto head of the Christian church, presided over the first ecumenical council, the council of Nicaea 325 AD, and so forth; passed his authority on to the popes. We all know that they circulated a fraudulent document—even Catholic theologians or historians acknowledge that. It was called The Donation of Constantine. They claimed that they received their authority from Constantine. Now, the church was wedded to the world.
That idea was picked up and enforced by Augustine, who wrote The City of God, talked about it, the church is now building an earthly kingdom in contrast to Christ’s statement to His disciples in John 15: “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” Christ never promised that we would take over the world. He told us to preach the gospel to call people out of this world for a heavenly kingdom.
Now, Augustine was quoted more than 400 times in his Institutes by John Calvin, who picked up the same idea. He even used such phrases as, “By the authority of Augustine.” And he enforced the “kingdom of God,” the City of God. He turned Geneva into the City of God and forced Christianity upon everyone with floggings—I’m sorry, this is history—with torture, even like the Inquisition did, with banishments, punishments, and so forth. He made everyone attend the Eucharist, in spite of the fact that Paul says, “If you take the bread and you take the cup unworthily, you even drink judgment upon yourselves.” How can you force everyone—all the citizenry—to partake of what they called the Eucharist, when how do you know they are not . . . they’re not even Christians, and, in fact, they were not, and we know that from the history of Geneva.
But, so here’s the idea that now the Church, instead of being the heavenly people, has taken Israel’s place as the earthly people. Israel is finished, but we’re going to build an earthly kingdom. And, you know that, well, in the book A Woman Rides the Beast, one of my books, I just give you the 14 identifying characteristics that the angel gives to John concerning the woman who rides the beast in Revelation 17, and one of those identifying characteristics is: “This is that great city built, on seven hills, that rules over the kings of the earth.” It’s been in bed, committing fornication with the kings of the earth. It claims to be the bride of Christ but has been in unholy alliances with the kings of this earth—in fact, it has ruled over them, and we documented it. The popes ruled the world down through history, but now we have Protestants who want to do the same thing. John Calvin wanted to do the same thing. Luther tried to do it.
So, it leads to all kinds of unbiblical ideas with serious consequences for the church today.
Tom: Now, Dave, let me give you a little bit of a shift or a twist on that. There are those who now are saying that the Church really doesn’t exist. Everyone who comes to Christ is really Israel, and the example that they would give from the Scriptures, in Romans 11, I think it is, where it talks about us being the wild branch who was grafted in. So now there is no Church. We are all really Israel. What do you think of that?
Dave: Well, I just go back to the first verse that I quoted, 1 Corinthians:10:32: “Giving none offense, neither to the Jew, nor to the Gentile, nor to the church of God.” Now, we have the Church in distinction to the Jew, which is Israel. If the church has replaced Israel, and if Israel—now there is no church, but we are all Israel—then Romans:10:1, Paul says, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they might be saved.” Now, put “the church” in there: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the church is that they might be saved.” That doesn’t make sense. You must be saved before you are in the Church!
Now, as far as being “grafted into the olive tree,” the true olive tree, and we are wild branches—no one has a relationship with God except by the same faith that Abraham had, and that is clearly presented throughout the Scriptures. So, Abraham is a type, he’s an example, of a man who has faith in God. He is justified not by works but by faith. For example, Romans:4:5 “Now unto him that worketh not, but believeth. . . ” There are some people who say, “Well, you can’t even believe, because believing is a work.” Well, the Bible says the opposite: “Now to him that worketh not, but believeth . . .”
So, faith is in contrast to works in Ephesians:2:8-10: “By grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works.” So, faith is not of works!
But anyway, Abraham is a picture of this, and whether it is Jews who will inherit the Promised Land, which they will one day, and the Messiah will rule over them—Christ will rule over them—or if it’s a Christian, or a Jew, or a Gentile who becomes a believer in Christ and becomes part of the Church, we must all have that same relationship with God that Abraham had. He’s the “man of faith”; he’s “the friend of God,” “the father of the faithful,” the scripture says.
So, in a sense, yes, we’re grafted in to this true olive tree. But there is a distinction that is made as well, and we cannot escape that—a distinction between Israel “after the flesh.” Paul talks about it: “My brethren after the flesh (Romans 9), I could wish that I were accursed for them. They have a zeal after God but not according to knowledge.” They are Christ’s brethren after the flesh! Now, to be part of natural Israel, you have to be a Jew by nature. And only a Jew by nature will inherit the Promised Land, but a Jew by nature who receives Christ as his Savior is no longer part of natural Israel to that extent but is in the Church. It is only those Jews who are alive when Christ returns. Zechariah:12:10 and Revelation l:7: “Every eye shall see him, and they also who pierced him.” That’s Israel—they pierced Him, and they rejected Him, “but now they will look on Me whom they pierced,” and they will recognize that here comes God to rescue them in the midst of Armageddon! They’re crying out for Him. In fact He said, “You won’t see me again until you cry out, ‘Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.’” Israel is going to be in such desperate straits that those who have survived—one-third of Israel—two-thirds will be finished. It’s the worst time yet for natural Israel! It’s called the time of Jacob’s trouble in Jeremiah:30:7. And those who are alive, Jews, who have not believed in the Messiah before (as did those who are part of the church), but they only believe when He returns physically to rescue them in Armageddon—they are the real Israel, who will go on into the kingdom, the Millennial reign, and Christ will rule over them on the throne of His Father David, and this will be for eternity.
Tom: Dave, the idea of the church is absolutely fascinating, but there are many facets to it. For example, in your book, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, you quote Matthew:16:18, where Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Now this is another aspect of the Church. What exactly does that mean?
Dave: I suppose anyone can come up with their own interpretation of “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” You could look at it a number of ways. Gates, of course, are not running around prevailing, and they’re not on the attack. But the “gates of hell”— that word actually was “Hades” in the Old Testament. There were two compartments—we get that clearly from Christ: “In hell, the rich man lifts up his eyes, being in torment, and he sees the beggar afar off in Abraham’s bosom.” He’s in paradise. This would have to be the paradise of which Christ spoke when He said to the thief on the cross, the one who believed in Him, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”
So, Hades was a place where both the damned and the saved were kept. The damned are kept there in store to be placed after the great white throne of judgment—they are cast into the lake of fire. The redeemed, those who had faith, died in faith, were kept there until Christ paying the penalty for our sins on the cross made it possible—the veil of the temple was rent—made it possible for human beings to enter into the presence of God. And He took them there after His resurrection, and now it’s “absent from the body, present with the Lord,” and we’re with Christ.
So, those gates of Hades could not prevail to keep those people in, but those who were in His Church (now there would be differences of opinion on this), but I believe that place was emptied. And at the Rapture it says He brings all the saints from heaven with Him. I think that includes Old Testament saints who died in faith. Surely it would include Abraham, of whom Christ said, “He rejoiced to see my day and was glad.”
Furthermore, Satan is the accuser of the brethren, and he is accusing Christians. Christians don’t live perfect lives. We should, because Christ has become our life, but sometimes we push Him off the throne and self gets in the way, and we do our own thing. We fall into temptation. We sin—God forbid that we should. “These things write unto you that you sin not,” John writes in 1 John 2, “ . . . but if you sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” So, the gates of hell are not going to prevail against those who put their faith in Christ. They cannot be brought back into that place, but they have been redeemed, they have been forgiven. Jesus said, “I give my sheep eternal life; they will never perish.” Now I am sure that people could come up with some other applications of that scripture.
Tom: Dave, we have about a minute and a half left in this segment, but I want you to address one thing. The church is not an organization. It’s not an institution.
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: You write in the book, “It’s an organism.” In other words, it has to do with our personal relationship with the Lord, not with being part of some establishment.
Dave: Right. Now that’s a tragedy today. People think a church is a church building or they think it’s an organization. “Now, this is my church.” Well, if that’s your church, I feel sorry for you. Jesus said, “I will build my church . . . ” and we’ve given various names because there are distinctions between denominations because of their beliefs, and I’m not faulting them for that. But it’s not the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian, the Methodist, the Anabaptist, or the Catholic, or whatever. But, it is composed, as the scripture says (and we are out of time now, but . . . ), of all true believers in Jesus Christ. This is an organism. This is called His body. He is the head of the church, and He is the head over all things to His body, which is the church—or to the church, which is his Body. So, people think, “Well, if I join a church . . . if I’m faithful to this church” and so forth. No, we must be faithful to Christ. And if we know Him, if we have believed that He died for our sins, was buried and rose again, we have put our faith and trust in Him for eternity, we are members of His body and we are part of His bride, we are in His church that He has built upon this foundation.
Tom: And that’s the gospel. And if your church doesn’t offer that, doesn’t present that, doesn’t present the Scriptures, you’re going to have some trouble, because you’re not going to find what you want—and what I hope our listeners who are seeking truth want, and that is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It’s only found that way.