Thanks to each of you who prayed for my trip to Israel last week. In a word, it was amazing. Those at the conference and prayer gatherings were humbly receptive and the Holy Spirit’s presence was profound. More than a few said they experienced life-changing encounters with Him. A highlight for me personally was to minister alongside and pray in depth with our friend Brother Yun, author of the book “The Heavenly Man.”
At the conference I was led to speak on a subject about which I’d not previously taught, namely, today’s new replacement theology. Called fulfillment theology or Christian Palestinianism, this theology argues that because Jesus fulfills all the Hebrew Scriptures, all prophetic promises to Israel are fulfilled in the Person of Messiah. It teaches that He has completely fulfilled any covenant relationship between God and the Jewish people. Therefore it firmly denies any covenant or biblical basis for Israel to exist as a nation state for the Jewish people. As you might suspect, it has been propagated by Christians who stand against Israel—and their numbers are rapidly growing.
Christian Palestinian theology developed out of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Palestinian evangelicals were forced to make a difficult choice: to side with Palestinian nationalism–which necessarily involves resistance against Israel and incorporates elements of militant Islam–or align with God’s purposes for Israel. Most have sided with the Islamic nationalistic culture in which they live.
Christian Palestinian teachers typically downplay or altogether dismiss the Old Covenant. Some of their leaders insist it is not the inspired Word of God, but regard it as a book of Jewish myth. Most Palestinian believers say they rarely, if ever read the Old Covenant. They do not believe Jesus is returning; He has already fulfilled everything. Sadly, to the extent our brothers and sisters reject the Hebrew Scriptures, they reject the fullness of God’s revelation of Himself to them personally. They may also be more prone to the influence of Islam.
In Christian Palestinianism, it is Jesus who directly replaces the Jewish people this time, not the Church. Christians replace Israel only indirectly, because we abide in Him. Because this replacement is indirect, Christian Palestinianists stress that they do not believe in replacement theology and insist they are not anti-Semitic.
Supersessionist fulfillment theology is readily seen as error if one understands how to interpret the Bible “Hebraicly”. A Hebraic approach to Scripture interpretation is expressed in the Scriptures themselves. It was used by all the writers of both Old and New Covenants, including Yeshua Himself. To be sure, in Matthew 5 Jesus said He fulfilled the Scriptures. But we can not take one isolated verse and build a theology around it that runs contrary to the overall teaching of the Bible.
Christian Palestinianists make no secret of their desire to undermine all Christian support of the State of Israel. Their teachings and resources are designed to eliminate believers’ support of Israel’s restoration. While actively working against Israel, they say they love Jews. They’ve gained a strong voice in the US, as well as all around the world.
It is not wrong for us to disagree with brothers and sisters in Yeshua (Jesus). But we must do so in a spirit of grace, with humility and love. Sadly, key writings by some Palestinian fulfillment teachers reflect harsh, anti-Semitic rhetoric quite similar to that of militant Islam.
And little surprise, for Christian Palestinians freely admit their rhetoric and theology stem partly from their personal pain.
Countless followers of Jesus have suffered great personal pain through history. But they did not seek to reinvent the story of the Bible as a result. So how can we respond to Christian Palestinianists? First, pray God’s love, healing and grace on our brothers and sisters. May He draw them (and us) anew to the Cross. Second, stay alert to the subtle spread of today’s new replacement theology. Third, connect to Israeli believers engaged in reconciliation projects with Palestinian believers and support those efforts. And fourth, when you visit Israel, truly listen to Arab Christians if you have opportunity. Then help them see truth in love. They have a high destiny in God to fulfill, but it won’t be achieved by cursing Israel.
GET SUCCINCT DAILY UPDATES OF KEY ISRAELI NEWS EVENTS, PRAYER POINTS, TIMELY SCRIPTURES AND OUR MINISTRY THROUGH TWITTER, where our address is twitter.com/lozministries. I post 1-3 short tweets per day. If you’re not yet on Twitter, it’ll take you 2 minutes to sign up for an account and then “follow” us.