Ministerial Disqualification

It is astounding to witness men and I suppose in this day, women, who are not qualified to minister or preach stand behind pulpits and do what Scripture plainly teaches they are unqualified to do. This comes from a headstrong unwillingness to submit to the parameters God has placed on ministry. A evidence of God’s parameters on ministry is seen in the Levitical priesthood in that strict regulations dictated which Levites could serve in the Tabernacle and later Temple. A great example of God refusing to allow someone to serve Him is that of King David in his desire to build the Temple. In II Samuel chapter seven, God told David that he was disqualified from doing this ministry and contrary to many folks today, David submitted to God’s verdict with joy and served in other ways.

People often ask, “At what point does someone lose the privilege of  ministering in the pulpit?” The easy, yet unpopular answer is given in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9. Simply stated, if someone does not meet these qualifications, they are forbidden by Almighty God from ministering in the pulpit. According to these specific qualifications and their clear meaning in English and Greek, they cannot preach or pastor if:

They are not a man.

This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” – I Timothy 3:1

He has publicly confessed or been found guilty of something that brings public reproach or legal prosecution.

“A bishop then must be blameless…” – I Timothy 3:2

If any be blameless…” – Titus 1:6

He has divorced and remarried.

“the husband of one wife…” – I Timothy 3:2

He is not on guard spiritually.

vigilant” – I Timothy 3:2

He is not of sound and serious mindedness.

sober…” – I Timothy 3:2

He is not well behaved and modest.

“of good behavior” – I Timothy 3:2

He is selfish and not hospitable.

“given to hospitality” – I Timothy 3:2

“a lover of hospitality” – Titus 1:8

He does not give Biblical instruction.

apt to teach” – I Timothy 3:2

He uses alcoholic beverages.

“Not given to wine” – I Timothy 3:3 & Titus 1:7

He seeks fights and quarrels.

“no striker” – I Timothy 3:3 & Titus 1:7

He is greedy for material gain.

“not greedy of filthy lucre” – I Timothy 3:3 

“not given to filthy lucre” – Titus 1:7

He is methodically impatient and consistently rough with people.

“but patient” – I Timothy 3:3

He is someone who physically fights people to get his way.

“not a brawler” – I Timothy 3:3

He seeks things, recognition or power that is not rightfully his.

“not covetous” – I Timothy 3:3

He lets his wife rule his home, or he rules immorally or dishonestly.

One that ruleth well his own house” – I Timothy 3:4

He lets his children live at home in sin, disobedience or dishonesty.

“having his children in subjection with all gravity. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” – I Timothy 3:4-5

having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.” – Titus 1:6

He has just gotten saved.

“Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.” – I Timothy 3:6

He has a record of criminality or immorality.

“Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” – I Timothy 3:7

He misuses or steals church funds.

blameless, as the steward of God” – Titus 1:7

He arrogantly does whatever he wants.

“not self-willed” – Titus 1:7

He has a quick or irrational temper.

“not soon angry” – Titus 1:7

He promotes and endorses people who are wicked or false teachers.

 “a lover of good men” – Titus 1:8

He is not living his life by God’s Word.

just” – Titus 1:8

He is not separated from the world and things which God hates.

holy” – Titus 1:8

He lacks self control.

temperate” – Titus 1:8

He deviates from the clear teaching of God’s Word in teaching or practice.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” – Titus 1:9

 

These are the requirements of a holy, righteous, Almighty God. How dare we defy them?

A Great Article Concerning Pastor’s Wives

WHY YOUR PASTOR’S WIFE HAS TRUST ISSUES

Several years ago while on a road trip, I got to connect with a dear friend for lunch. Over salad and sandwiches she made a statement that caught my attention: “Pastors’ wives have trust issues.” It wasn’t an accusation. Simply an observation from a wise woman who has had several close pastor’s wife friends.

At the time I was taken aback. I thought to myself, “I am a pastor’s wife and I don’t have trust issues.” At the time my statement was true.

Fast forward many years.

I, the pastor’s wife, have trust issues.

I don’t always feel safe in my own congregation.

I don’t always know with whom I can let my guard down.

I’m often hesitant to share my secret thoughts, my joys and struggles, my life with others—especially others in the church. I simply don’t know what they will do with my heart. Will they protect it? Ignore it? Attack it?

I’ve come to agree that my sweet friend was right. Us pastors’ wives do indeed have trust issues. Or, at least, this one does. And in case you are wondering why it seems that your pastor’s wife seems a bit distant and/or disconnected, there are a few things you can do to help provide a safe environment for her to come out of her emotional shell.

GIVE HER TIME.

She (her husband, too) has probably been burned a time or two when it comes to friendships within the church. And not only is there the personal pain of a betrayal, there are the implications of how that rift might affect her husband’s ability to pastor his congregation effectively. It might take her much longer to be comfortable in her congregation than you think. (Side note: Even after much time, it is also very unlikely that she will be good friends with everyone in the church. So be sure to manage the expectation that she will be good friends with everyone.)

GIVE HER FREEDOM TO BE HERSELF.

Treat her like you would any other church member. Don’t lay expectations on her to lead a team or be super-involved with a certain area of the church that you think is “typical.” And please, please, please don’t compare her to your previous pastor’s wife. She, like you, is a work in progress. She, like you, is uniquely created by God to serve in ways particular to her gifting, her season of life, and God’s call on her life. Give her space to figure out what and where that is within your particular congregation. And once she does, cheer her on like crazy and encourage her to stay put and not give in to the pressure that leads her to take on more.

GIVE HER DECENCY.

Think before you speak. Remember that she is not on the church payroll for being married to pastor. She is not on every committee and doesn’t know everything that is going on. She is not her husband’s secretary. Don’t expect more from her than you are expecting of yourself. And please don’t expect her to initiate every conversation. Even extroverts have their limits. Try to understand how it feels to live in a “fish bowl.” Recognize how your complaints (to her face and behind her back) about the church, her husband’s decisions, and/or the way her children act affect her. Treat her with the same respect you yourself would want to be treated.

GIVE HER GRACE.

Don’t make assumptions that just because she is the wife of a pastor she has it all figured out, especially spiritually. She misses her Bible reading. She yells at her family. There are days she wants to stay in bed and not go to church. She makes bad choices. She gets depressed. She sins. But she often feels like she needs to hide all of that from Y. O. U. Your trust issues may look different, but she is human and her natural reaction is to protect herself from harm, just like any other normal human being.

“We need to find our foundation in God alone.”

The difference between 30-something I-don’t-have-trust-issues Katie and the woman who is typing these words today? Hurt. Pain. Betrayal. Disappointment. Between our own experiences and the sad stories of my pastor’s wife friends, I’ve seen the worst-case scenarios one too many times. The evil one has attempted to use unhealthy, unstable, and untrustworthy people to tear apart the local body of believers. Again and again.

Ultimately, not one of us is called to a safe life free from risk. Us pastors’ wives need to work through our trust issues. We need to be able to risk pain and loss. We need to learn to love unconditionally and unhindered. We need to find our foundation in God alone—not a perfect friendship or job security. But while we’re on this journey toward trusting the hearts around us with our own, be patient. And pray for us.

Is God Finished With Israel?

Is God Finished With Israel?
August 8, 2017
David Cloud, Way of Life Literature, P.O. Box 610368, Port Huron, MI 48061
866-295-4143, fbns@wayoflife.org
The following is excerpted from the new book WHAT ABOUT STEVEN ANDERSON?, which is available in print or as a free eBook. See the end of this report for more information.
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We are told by many that God is finished with Israel, that she has been replaced with the church, and that the church is Zion, and the earthly Jerusalem has been replaced with the heavenly Jerusalem.

We have long been told this by covenant theologians who follow the “church fathers” that devised this view.

Now we are hearing replacement theology taught by some Independent Baptists.

In the video Marching to Zion, Steven Anderson teaches that Israel today, the Israel that returned to the land and established a modern state, is not the Israel of the Bible. Rather, God is finished with the nation Israel and New Testament believers are the “true Israel.”

“It’s those of us who believe in Jesus Christ that are Israel. … We Christians are the true people of God. We are the true Israel. And we are marching to Zion” (Anderson, Marching to Zion).

Other men associated with Anderson are saying the same thing.

“So I’m Israel. Those people over there are not Israel” (Pastor M.J. Filenius, 36th Street Missionary Baptist Phoenix, Arizona, cited in Marching to Zion).

“There is NOTHING in the New Testament to support the Jewish occupation of Palestine. In fact, Paul clearly tells the believers, that we (saved) are the ‘seed of Abraham’ and the ‘children of promise’ (Galatians 3-4; Romans 9)” (Matt Furse, Who Is Israel?)

These men are saying that God is finished with national Israel, and in this report we intend to answer that false charge from Scripture.

Who says that God is not finished with national Israel? The whole Bible says this. It is taught from Genesis to Revelation. The only way to refute it is to allegorize and spiritualize a vast amount of plain Scripture, which is exactly what Replacement Theology does and which is exactly what we refuse to do. No one is going to rob us of a consistent normal-literal method of interpreting Bible prophecy, because the evidence that this is the proper method of interpretation is overwhelming.

The Abrahamic Covenant

The Abrahamic Covenant says God is not finished with Israel.

God’s covenant with Abraham is one of the most important things in human history. By this covenant, God created the nation Israel and brought the Scriptures and the Saviour to the world. By this covenant, God brought salvation to the sinful human race through Christ. By this covenant, God will fulfill His eternal plan to bring together all things in one in Christ (Eph. 1:10).

The Three Blessings

God’s covenant to Abraham promises personal blessings (for Abraham himself), national blessings (for the 12 tribes of Israel), and universal blessings (for all of the redeemed)–not one or the other, but all three.

The personal aspect of Abraham’s covenant belongs to Abraham himself (“I will bless thee, and make thy name great,” Ge. 12:2). Abraham is one of the most important men in human history. He is mentioned 250 times in the Bible. He was blessed by wealth even in his lifetime (Ge. 24:35). Through Isaac, Abraham is the father of the Jews and the Christians, and through Ishmael, he is the father of the Arabs and the Muslims. Paradise is named after him (Lu. 16:22), because he is the father of saving faith (Ro. 4:11Ga. 3:14).

The national aspect of Abraham’s covenant belongs to the nation Israel (“I will make of thee a great nation,” Ge. 12:2). Israel inherited the covenant through Isaac (Ge. 26:1-4) and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. God said to Jacob, “And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land” (Ge. 35:9-12). To national Israel belongs the land that was promised to Abraham. Compare Ge. 12:713:14-1715:7. In 1 Chronicles 16:13-16 David affirmed that Abraham’s covenant passed through Isaac and Jacob to Jacob’s children, the nation Israel, and that the promise includes the inheritance of the land.

The universal blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant are enjoyed by all believers through Abraham’s greater Seed, Jesus Christ (“and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,” Ge. 12:3). Those who receive Christ become Abraham’s seed (Gal. 3:6-929). But New Testament believers do not possess the land of Israel and our hope is not tied to that land. Our hope is not earthly but heavenly. We will rule and reign with Christ, not as Israel, but as Christ’s Bride. How exactly the church will relate to Israel in the Millennial kingdom is not revealed in Scripture.

The Seed of Abraham

Abraham was promised a seed. This is mentioned at least 24 times in Genesis (Ge. 12:713:1513:1615:5131816:1017:7891017:1921:1222:171824:726:342428:4131432:1235:1248:4).

There is national and physical seed. Abraham’s seed is the nation Israel which shall inherit the land (Ge. 15:13-21).

There is spiritual seed through Christ (Ga. 3:1629). The apostle Paul teaches that all of the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant come through Abraham’s greater Seed, Christ (Gal. 3:16), but Paul also teaches that Israel today is Abraham’s seed, though not currently the children of God (Ro. 11:12 Co. 11:22).

The rebellion of Abraham’s national seed, Israel, does not annul the promises that God has made to her. Everywhere in Scripture we are taught that national Israel would be judged for her sin, but that she will be restored to her own land and to the place of God’s blessing when she repents. In the section on distinguishing Israel from the Church in the previous section on the Interpretation of Prophecy, we looked at many passages that teach this (Deuteronomy 28-30; Hosea 3:4-5Amos 9:8-15Acts 3:18-2115:13-18Romans 11:25-29).

Consider Leviticus 26:31-45. This passage describes the judgment that will come upon Israel because of her sin against God, but it says further that Israel will be restored when she repents and acknowledges her sin, and this restoration is because of the covenant that God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

“THEN WILL I REMEMBER MY COVENANT WITH JACOB, AND ALSO MY COVENANT WITH ISAAC, AND ALSO MY COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM will I remember; and I WILL REMEMBER THE LAND. The land also shall be left of them, and shall enjoy her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them: and they shall accept of the punishment of their iniquity: because, even because they despised my judgments, and because their soul abhorred my statutes. And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I WILL NOT CAST THEM AWAY, NEITHER WILL I ABHOR THEM, TO DESTROY THEM UTTERLY, AND TO BREAK MY COVENANT WITH THEM: for I am the LORD their God. But I will for their sakes remember THE COVENANT OF THEIR ANCESTORS, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the heathen, that I might be their God: I am the LORD” (Le. 26:42-45).

Words could not be plainer. Israel’s rebellion does not annul the covenant that He made with her through Jacob. In this passage, God is talking about the people of Israel and the land of Israel, and there is no legitimate way to apply this to the church.

The Blessing and the Curse (Ge. 12:3)

God promised to bless those who bless Abraham and to curse those who curse him.

Laban testified that God blessed him for Jacob’s sake (Ge. 30:27).

Potiphar testified that God blessed him for Joseph’s sake (Ge. 39:2-3).

The principle of cursing those who curse Abraham and blessing those who bless him is applicable to Abraham’s national seed. God has blessed and cursed nations for how they have treated Israel. God has used many nations to judge Israel when she sinned, but He always judged those pagan nations afterwards. Isaiah 33:1 pronounces woe upon “the spoilers,” referring to the spoilers of Israel. God used the spoilers to judge sinning Israel, but He pronounced woe upon the spoilers. This happened to Assyria (Isa. 10:25). It happened to Babylon (Jer. 51:11). God took vengeance on Babylon for destroying Israel’s temple. In Zechariah 2:8-9, God says that Israel is the apple of His eye, and He warns that He will judge those who destroy Israel. The prophet Ezekiel addressed many nations and pronounced judgment upon them for hating Israel. See Eze. 25:3-7 (Ammonites), Eze. 25:8-11 (Moab), Eze. 25:12-14 (Edom), Eze. 25:15-17 (Philistines), Eze. 26:2-5 (Tyre), Eze. 28:22-24 (Zidon), Eze. 35:3-15 (Edom). Israel is under God judgment today for her unbelief, but she is still Israel, and she still belongs to God, and she is still under God’s watchcare, and those who curse her are still cursed. I, for one, would not curse Israel, even in her most apostate condition. When Israel was wandering in the wilderness because of her sin and unbelief, God did not allow Balaam to curse her. “How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD hath not defied?” (Nu. 23:8).

I believe we can see this biblical principle at work in the history of Great Britain. After Britain turned against Israel and renounced the Balfour Declaration, which was a solemn promise because of Jewish help during World War I, and Britain did everything she could to arm the Arabs and to disarm the Jews prior to and after 1948, she soon lost her empire.

The principle of cursing those who curse Abraham and blessing those who bless him is applicable to born-again Christians who are Abraham’s seed (Ga. 3:29). God has blessed nations for how they have treated Christians and how they have given liberty for the preaching of the gospel. We can see this today. Those nations that give the most freedom for gospel preaching and church work are the most blessed nations.

The Covenant of Deuteronomy 29-30

The covenant of Deuteronomy says God is not finished with Israel (Deuteronomy 29-30). It has been called “the Palestinian Covenant,” but we believe that a better name is “the Return Covenant.”

The covenant of Deuteronomy 29-30 guarantees the return of Israel to the land. The same Israel that would rebel and be cast out of the land and suffer great indignation (De. 30:22-28) will return (De. 30:1-9).

This covenant was made with the 12 tribes of Israel at the end of the 40 years of wilderness wandering just before they entered the Promised Land. It was made in the land of Moab (De. 29:1), which bordered the land of Canaan on the east.

The covenant promises that Israel will be restored to the land and blessed after the judgments of God are finished (De. 30:1-9).

The covenant is unconditional and sure–“thou SHALT return and shalt obey his voice” (De. 30:2-2); “the Lord thy God WILL bring thee into the land” (De. 30:5); “God WILL circumcise thine heart” (De. 30:6); “God WILL put all these curses upon thine enemies” (De. 30:7); “thou SHALT return and obey the voice of the Lord” (De. 30:8); “God WILL make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand” (De. 30:9).

The covenant will be fulfilled when Israel, scattered among the nations repents (De. 30:1-2). This proves that apostate Israel of the Diaspora is the Israel that will fulfill this covenant.

Israel will be gathered from among the nations and brought to “the land which thy fathers possessed” (De. 30:3-5).

Israel will be restored to the place of God’s blessing. “And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers” (De. 30:9).

This covenant is not fulfilled in Israel today, but it will be fulfilled when Israel is converted during the time of Jacob’s Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7).

The covenant cannot be applied to “the church” without doing violence to language. It pertains to people who were scattered among the nations and then brought back to the very land possessed by their fathers.

The Davidic Covenant

The Davidic covenant says God is not finished with Israel (2 Samuel 7:4-17).

The Davidic covenant is an extension of the covenant God made with Abraham. In the Davidic covenant, God gives more details about the national kingdom aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant.

Israel’s future existence, restoration to the place of God’s favor, and the re-establishment of her kingdom is based on God’s unconditional promise to David.

The Davidic Covenant promises the following: First, the house and throne of David will be established forever (2 Sa. 7:1316). Second, David’s children will be chastised for sin, but the covenant can never be annulled (2 Sa. 7:14-15). Third, the Davidic covenant will be fulfilled through Jesus Christ, David’s Son, who inherits David’s throne (Mt. 1:1) and who will establish the Davidic kingdom (Isa. 9:6-7).

The Psalmists mention the Davidic covenant and interpret it literally (Ps. 18:5089:3-420-37132:11-18). The Psalmists teach us that the Davidic Covenant is the means whereby God will establish His kingdom on earth (Ps. 89:20-29). Psalm 72 describes in much detail the physical, earthly kingdom of David’s Son Jesus the Messiah.

The prophets often mention the Davidic covenant and interpret it literally (Isa. 9:6-716:522:22-2455:3-5Jer. 23:5-630:933:15-26Eze. 34:23-2437:24-25Amo. 9:11-15Zec. 12:7 – 13:1).

For example, Hosea plainly describes the fall of Israel followed by her return and the re-establishment of the Davidic kingdom.

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: AFTERWARD shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days” (Ho. 3:4-5).

This is the Bible’s teaching about Israel and her future in a nutshell. Israel would rebel against God’s Word, be judged, abide many days without a king or a sacrifice or a priesthood (e.g., no kingdom and no temple), then return, repent, and be restored and blessed. The restoration will occur “in the latter days.”

According to Replacement Theology, Jesus is currently sitting on David’s throne in heaven and this is the fulfillment of the Davidic covenant, but this requires allegorical gymnastics that I, for one, refuse to engage in. It requires “spiritualizing” the plain words of the Davidic covenant and the New Covenant.

Progressive Dispensationalism also says that Christ is already sitting on David’s throne, but it further teaches that Christ will establish a literal 1,000 year kingdom in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy at His return. This is called “already but not yet,” meaning that “Jesus is already on David’s throne but has not yet completely fulfilled the promise of God to David for a descendant to sit on his throne” (“What Is Progressive Dispensationalism?” gotquestions.org).

But no verse or passage in the New Testament says that Christ is currently sitting on David’s throne. Psalm 110:1-4 doesn’t say that; one must read this into the passage. David wrote Psalm 110, but he does not say here that the Messiah will sit on his (David’s) throne while He awaits victory over His enemies. In fact, the Bible tells us that the throne upon which the Messiah currently sits is the Father’s throne.

The New Covenant

The New Covenant says God is not finished with Israel (Jeremiah 31-33).

The New Covenant is God’s promise to convert rebellious Israel, restore her to her own land, and bless her.

Consider some facts about the New Covenant:

1. It was made with the nation Israel (Jer. 31:31).

2. It promises the following things:

a. The regathering of Israel (Jer. 31:6-11)

b. God’s blessing upon Israel’s land (Jer. 31:4-512-1424-25). Ezekiel often refers to the land as “the land of Israel” when he prophesies of Israel’s restoration (Eze. 11:1720:384237:1238:18-1940:247:18).

c. The spiritual conversion of the people and cleansing from sin (Jer. 31:33-34)

d. The reestablishment of Israel’s kingdom and the possession of the land (Jer. 31:35-37)

e. Blessing upon Jerusalem as the capital of the kingdom (Jer. 31:38-40)

There is no way to make this fit the church without doing violence to plain Bible language and to clear promises of God.

3. The New Covenant is unconditional and sure (Jer. 33:19-26). God goes out of His way to make this absolutely clear.

“In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness. For thus saith the LORD; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel; Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually. And the word of the LORD came unto Jeremiah, saying, Thus saith the LORD; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; Then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers. As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured: so will I multiply the seed of David my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me. Moreover the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, saying, Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the LORD hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them. Thus saith the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.”

Note that God specifically corrects those who say that He has cast off the families of Israel that they should be no more a nation. This is exactly what Replacement Theology says.

Consider two other major prophecies of the New Covenant in the Old Testament, among many that could be considered:

Isaiah 61:1-12

Isaiah 61:1-2 is the passage that Jesus read in the synagogue at Nazareth at the beginning of His ministry (Luke 4:18-21). He stopped mid-way through verse 2 and said, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.” He didn’t read the rest of the prophecy which deals with God’s judgment on and the restoration of Israel.

The old wastes will be rebuilt (Isa. 61:4).

Strangers will serve Israel as shepherds, farmers and vinedressers (Isa. 61:5).

Israel will be converted and be the priests and ministers of God (Isa. 61:6). Israel will finally be what God intended that she be, which is a light to the nations.

Israel will be physically blessed and enriched (Isa. 61:6).

The nations will recognize Israel’s conversion and know that God has blessed her (Isa. 61:9). This, too, tells us that these are real, earthly events.

Ezekiel 36:22-38

God will restore Israel for His name’s sake (Eze. 36:22-23). As God’s name has been profaned among the nations because of Israel’s apostasy, so His name will be glorified in her repentance and restoration.

God will regather Israel from among the nations and bring her to her “own land” (Eze. 36:24). This is proof that the land of Israel belongs to ancient Israel and that currently apostate Israel will be restored to it.

Israel will be converted and cleansed and given a spiritual heart to love and obey God (Eze. 36:25-27).

Israel will then dwell in the land that God gave to their fathers (Eze. 36:28).

Israel will be physically blessed in the land (Eze. 36:29-3033-3438).

The nations will know that the Lord has done this (Eze. 36:36). The restoration and blessing will be visible, dramatic events, and there will be no question by the onlookers that prophecy will have been fulfilled.

The New Covenant and Church-age Believers

Question: If the New Covenant is not fulfilled in the church, why does the writer of Hebrews quote it (Hebrews 8:6-1310:15-19)?

Answer:

1. Hebrews does not say the New Covenant is fulfilled in the church. It twice states, rather, that the New Covenant belongs to “the house of Israel” (Heb. 8:810).

2. Hebrews refers to the New Covenant to show that the Mosaic law was only temporary and that even the Old Testament promised that it would be abolished and replaced by another covenant. Hebrews was written to Jews who professed Christ, some of whom were being tempted to return to the Jewish religion because of persecution. It was written to encourage them that Christ is superior in every way. The writer of Hebrews mentions the New Covenant to show that God had all along planned to replace the Mosaic Covenant with a better one.

3. The writer of Hebrews indicates that the New Testament believer partakes of the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant through Christ (Heb. 10:15-18), but nowhere does he say that this covenant has been transferred from national Israel to the church or that the physical aspects of the covenant should be spiritualized. Since the spiritual aspects of the New Covenant (and the spiritual aspects only) are cited in Hebrews 8:8-11 (from Jeremiah 31:31-34), it appears that New Testament believers participate only in the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant through Christ’s atonement.

4. The apostle Paul plainly taught that the New Covenant will be fulfilled literally in Israel following the church age (Ro. 11:25-27). In verse 27 Paul refers to the covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34.

Isaiah 10:20-22

This is one of the many brief passages in the Old Testament prophets that summarize God’s dealings with Israel.

The prophecy deals with the remnant of the house of Jacob that will return and be blessed after the judgment. It is a remnant that will be saved, not every Jew or everyone who is the seed of Jacob.

The seed of Jacob will be judged and scattered among the nations, but a remnant of that seed will return and trust Jehovah God “in truth,” and the conversion with “overflow with righteousness.” This has not yet happened, but it will happen during the time of Jacob’s trouble when Israel will be converted in preparation for the return of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.

Ezekiel 34:11-31

This beautiful prophecy of the Shepherd leaves no doubt that God is not finished with national Israel.

The Shepherd, of course, is Jehovah God, and we know from the New Testament that this is Christ, the Son of God who identified Himself as the Good Shepherd (Joh. 10:1114).

He will regather the sheep from the countries where they have been scattered and bring them to “their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel” (Eze. 34:12-13). This obviously is not what God is doing today in the church age. This is national Israel being brought back from her Diaspora to her own land.

God will distinguish between “cattle and cattle” (Eze. 34:17-22). Not every Jew will be saved. Zechariah explains that one-third of the Jews living at that time will be saved (Zec. 13:8-9).

The Lord will be their God, and David will be a prince among them (Eze. 34:24). David’s Son, Immanuel or Jehovah God in the flesh, will sit on the throne of Israel.

God will make a new covenant with Israel, and she will experience peace and blessing and prosperity (Eze. 34:25-29).

Note that the God plainly says that “the house of Israel are my people” (Eze. 34:30). This refers to restored Israel in the future.

Ezekiel 37:1-14

The prophecy of the Valley of Dry Bones says God is not finished with Israel (Ezekiel 37).

This great prophecy is the only one that explains that Israel will return from her wanderings among the nations in two stages, and in the first stage she will return in a spiritually dead condition.

The interpretation of the valley of dry bones is plainly given in the prophecy itself. It signifies Israel in her dispersion among the nations.

“Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts” (Eze. 37:11).

The resurrection of the dry bones represents Israel’s return to the land and restoration as a nation.

“Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel” (Eze. 37:12).

This is as great a miracle as the resurrection from the dead. Never in human history has a nation been evicted from its land and scattered throughout the world for 2,000 years to survive as a nation and be restored to its original land and with its original language and religion.

The first stage of the restoration of Israel is in an unconverted state.

“So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: BUT THERE WAS NO BREATH IN THEM” (Eze. 37:7-8).

This is exactly what Israel is today and where Israel is today prophetically. Modern Israel is not righteous and is not a fulfillment of the regathering described in connection with the prophecies we have already considered. The land has been developed in an amazing way, but it is not a fulfillment of prophecies about the desert blossoming as the rose (Isaiah 35:1). Modern Israel is, by her own profession, a secular state and most Jews are secular Jews who aren’t religious and don’t believe in the God of the Bible. A large percentage are avowed atheists. A minority hold to various branches of “orthodox Judaism,” which is a religion that does not follow the Old Testament but rather follows the Talmud. “Rabbinic Judaism” is ancient Phariseeism.

But the prophecy teaches that God is going to touch Israel again and convert her spiritually.

“Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. … And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD” (Eze. 37:9-1014).

This is in the future, and it is described in many prophecies, as we have seen, such as Zechariah 12-14.

It is clear from Ezekiel’s prophecy that God is not finished with Israel. The same apostate Israel that was evicted from the land and scattered among her nations for her sin will be restored to the land. This has nothing to do with church age saints.

Ezekiel 37:15-28

This prophecy emphasizes that Israel and Judah will be reunited (Eze. 37:15-20). Though most Jews today do not know their tribe for certain, God knows, and He doesn’t need a DNA test. The 12 tribes are not lost and will be restored by God.

Israel will be regathered from the nations and brought into “their own land” (Eze. 37:21). They “will dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt” (Eze. 37:25). There can be no question that the prophecy predicts the restoration of Israel to her own land and that it is presented as a literal, physical event.

Israel will be one nation and have one king and prince (Eze. 37:222425). David himself will be there in a leadership position, but other Scriptures explain that it is David’s Son who will be the King of kings.

Israel will be cleansed of her sin and will obey God (Eze. 37:2324).

God will make an everlasting covenant with Israel (Eze. 37:26).

God will place His temple in their midst (Eze. 37:26-27). This is the temple described in great detail in Ezekiel 40-48.

These things will be seen by the nations and God will be glorified by them (Eze. 37:28). The prophet is describing real physical, earthly events.

Ezekiel 38-39

The prophecy of Gog and Magog says that God is not finished with Israel (Ezekiel 38-39).

This prophecy describes an attack upon Israel by a great military alliance from the north.

Our purpose here is not to look at the prophecy in detail but to see that it proves that God is not finished with Israel.

The prophecy occurs when Israel has been “brought back from the sword” and “is brought forth out of the nations” (Eze. 38:8). It occurs after a regathering that follows the land of Israel becoming waste. Obviously it refers to the restoration of the same Israel that was scattered among the nations.

The attack of Gog and Magog will occur in the latter days (Eze. 38:16). We see that Israel still exists in the end times.

The attack will occur at a time when the “people of Israel dwelleth safely” (Eze. 38:14). This isn’t today. It could be during the first 3.5 years of her covenant with the Antichrist. It could refer to after Armageddon. It’s difficult to place the time exactly, but it is certainly referring to a literal Israel in a literal land.

The armies of Gog and Magog will be supernaturally destroyed by God (Eze. 38:21-22).

Israel will be brought back from the nations and will know the Lord. God’s Spirit will be poured upon “the house of Israel’ (Eze. 39:25-29).

The nations will then understand God’s dealings with Israel (Eze. 39:23).

In this prophecy, God calls Israel “my people” (Eze. 38:1416). The land is called “my land” (Eze. 38:16), referring to Jehovah God’s, and “the land of Israel” (Eze. 38:1819) and “their own land” (Eze. 39:28).

It is perfectly obvious that God is not finished with Israel, that she will return to the land, be restored to God and to the place of His blessing, and her enemies will be punished. It is impossible to apply this prophecy to the church.

Daniel’s 70 Week Prophecy

Daniel’s 70 Week prophecy says that God is not finished with Israel (Daniel 9:24-28).

This great prophecy clearly describes a complete summary of God’s program for Israel from the Babylonian Captivity until the return of Christ. The 70 weeks are weeks of years, or 490 years, as it is clear from the fulfillment so far.

During the 70 weeks, God’s judgments upon Israel will be completed and Christ will return to bring in the kingdom. The angel tells Daniel that the prophecy pertains to his own people, the Jews, and to the holy city, Jerusalem (Da. 9:24).

The first 69 weeks (483 years) extended from the time that the commandment was given to rebuild Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity to the time of Christ’s first coming. The commandment to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes the king of Persia, and is described in Nehemiah 1:1-8. (The same king gave the commandment to rebuild the temple 13 years earlier as described in the book of Ezra, but Daniel 9:25 speaks particularly of the rebuilding of the city wall.) Daniel’s prophecy describes three great events that occurred in this time. First, Jerusalem was rebuilt (Da. 9:25). The rebuilding of the city streets and walls in troublous times is described in the book of Nehemiah. Second, Messiah was “cut off, but not for himself,” meaning that He died on the cross for man’s sins (Da. 9:26). His death was substitutionary. Third, the city and temple were destroyed (Da. 9:26). This occurred in AD 70 when the armies of Rome destroyed Jerusalem.

After that there will continue to be wars until the time of the end (Da. 9:26). This describes the Roman Jewish wars, but it also describes the last 2,000 years of Israel’s history. Even today, though Israel is back in the land, she has had no peace, and she will have no peace until she repents and receives her Messiah, Jesus.

The last week, or seven years, of Daniel’s prophecy remains to be fulfilled (Da. 9:27). Between the 69th and 70th weeks is the church age, which is called a “mystery” because it was not revealed to the Old Testament prophets (Eph. 3:3-6). The church age is like a valley that the Old Testament prophets did not see lying between the peaks of the first and second coming of Christ. Paul describes the church age as the time of Israel’s blindness in Romans 11:25-27.

The last week (seven years) of Daniel’s prophecy is divided into two parts (Da. 9:27). At the beginning of the seven years, the Antichrist will make a false peace covenant with Israel. It is at this time that the Jewish temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem. Revelation 11 describes it being measured (Re. 11:1-2) at the very time when the Two Witnesses will prophesy in Jerusalem. Mid-way through the seven years the Antichrist will break this covenant and desecrate the temple by exalting himself as God. Compare 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. This event marks the beginning of the 3.5 years of Great Tribulation. Jesus calls this event “the abomination of desolation” (Mt. 24:15).

This prophecy sees Israel, Daniel’s people, continuing to the time of the Antichrist. It teaches us that the Antichrist and his program does not pertain to the church; it pertains to Israel and to her land and temple.

Hosea

Hosea 3:4-5 says that God is not finished with Israel. This passage plainly describes the fall of Israel followed by her return and the re-establishment of the Davidic kingdom.

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: AFTERWARD shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days” (Ho. 3:4-5).

This is the Bible’s teaching about Israel and her future in a nutshell. Israel would rebel against God’s Word, be judged, abide many days without a king or a sacrifice or a priesthood (e.g., no kingdom and no temple), then return, repent, and be restored and blessed. The restoration will occur “in the latter days.”

Amos

Amos says that God is not finished with Israel.

“Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are upon the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the face of the earth; saving that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob, saith the LORD. For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth. All the sinners of my people shall die by the sword, which say, The evil shall not overtake nor prevent us. In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Am. 9:8-15).

This is another of the many Old Testament prophecies of the restoration of Israel after her worldwide dispersion. It is clear and precise, and only by doing violence to the language can it be made to describe anything other than a restoration of the nation Israel.

Consider some of the lessons from a literal interpretation of this prophecy:

God will judge Israel severely for her sin, but He will not utterly destroy her (Am. 9:8).

Israel will be sifted among the nations, but not the least grain will fall to the earth (Am. 9:9). He has always had His eye upon Israel and has been in control of her wanderings.

The sinners of Israel who do not believe God’s Word will perish (Am. 9:10). They are the national seed of Abraham, but that does not mean they are saved or will be saved. Those who do not repent will not be saved.

But Israel itself will be restored. The tabernacle of David will be raised up and built as in the old days (Am. 9:11). This will occur when Christ returns and sits on the throne of David, ruling Israel and the whole world.

The restoration of the house of David will be accompanied by blessings on the land (Am. 9:13-15). The prophecy pertains to a land.

Words could not be more clear and simple to understand, and this is the consistent testimony of the entire Bible. The same Israel that turned from God and was judged and scattered among the nations will be restored to her land, the very land upon which she lived in ancient times, and she will live on that land and be blessed in that land, and the Son of David will restore the Davidic kingdom and rule and reign over it. That’s the teaching of the Bible from the Pentateuch to Revelation.

Amos’ prophecy is cited by James in Acts 15.

“And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things” (Ac. 15:15-17).

Here James quotes Amos 9:11 and gives a general reference to Amos 9:12 without quoting it exactly. His simple point is that the Old Testament prophets foresaw God’s blessing on the Gentiles. This was the subject in question at the Jerusalem conference.

James does not say that Amos 9 is fulfilled in the church or that God is finished with Israel. For that, it would have been necessary that he interpret the kingdom prophecies allegorically or spiritually, but instead he interprets Amos literally. Since he cites the part of the prophecy about the salvation of the Gentiles as literal, there is no reason to believe that he was looking at the restoration of the house of David as anything other than literal.

If the apostles had believed that the church has fulfilled such prophecies, this would have been the ideal place to have made that perfectly clear, but they did just the opposite.

Zechariah

Zechariah says God is not finished with Israel.

Consider the great prophecy of Zechariah 12-14.

Jerusalem will be besieged by the “people of the earth” but will be delivered and will conquer all their armies (Zec. 12: 1-9). The nations that come against Jerusalem will be destroyed. This has never happened. God destroyed Sennacherib’s army, but that consisted of one Assyrian army, not the nations of the world. The armies of the world have never attacked Israel before. Zechariah’s prophecy will be fulfilled when the nations attack Israel during the time of the Antichrist. It is part of the Battle of Armageddon.

At that time, Israel will repent and will acknowledge the crucified Jesus as Christ (Zec. 12:10-14). They will look upon him “whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” The mourning will be in Jerusalem and all over Israel. The mourning will involve the house of David and the house of Levi and the other families. This is obviously talking about national Israel and not the church in any sense. Israelites today might not know their tribal genealogies, but God knows.

Israel will be cleansed by the blood of Christ (Zec. 13:1).

Israel will be cleansed of idolatry and false teaching (Zec. 13:2-6).

One-third of Israel will be converted, and two-thirds will be judged (Zec. 13:7-9). The third part will be brought through the Great Tribulation for purifying (Zec. 13:9). This is why the tribulation is also called the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7).

The Lord will return to the Mount of Olives and it will be divided (Zec. 14:1-7). A great valley will be formed, and the remnant of Jews will flee from Jerusalem.

A river of living waters will flow from Jerusalem (Zec. 14:8). Ezekiel also describes this, and it will heal the Dead Sea and the desert area in the Judean wilderness to the east of Jerusalem (Eze. 47:8-12).

Israel’s topography will be changed (Zec. 14:10).

The LORD will be king over all the earth (Zec. 14:9). His kingship of the earth is spoken of in the context of His return to the Mount of Olives and blessings on the land of Israel.

Israel will be blessed and enriched (Zec. 14:14).

The surviving nations will come to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts (Zec. 14:16).

The nations that refuse to submit will be punished (Zec. 14:17-19).

Israel will be perfectly holy (Zec. 14:20-21).

This prophecy cannot be spiritualized to refer to the church without doing it such damage that it is rendered meaningless.

Christ’s Teaching

The Lord Jesus taught that God is not finished with Israel. Consider four examples:

In Matthew 23, after Christ condemned the Pharisees and their false traditions and false works religion, He said to the Jews of that day and to Jerusalem, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, TILL ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:38-39). Note the word “till.” Christ promised judgment upon Israel. He prophesied that their temple would be desolate. But the judgment wasn’t going to be permanent. It has an end, and it will end when Israel repents. This repentance is described in great detail by the prophet Zechariah (chapter 12).

In Matthew 24, Christ continued this same teaching. The temple of His day would be destroyed so that there would not remain “one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down” (verse 2). The visitor to Jerusalem can still see the “Titus stones” that were thrown from the temple mount in AD 70 and crashed to the street below at the south end of the western wall. And Jesus prophesied of the rise of the Antichrist spoken of by Daniel, who will stand in a rebuilt Jewish temple (Mt. 24:15). And then those who are in Judea will flee (Mt. 24:16). Jesus is prophesying of the Israel that exists today, the Israel that occupies the hills of Judea and is preparing to build the third temple. Christ is prophesying of modern Israel. He says she will still be under God’s judgment in the end times and will endure great tribulation (Mt. 24:41). He prophesies of false Jewish christs that will rise, and we know that many of them have already risen (Mt. 24:24-26).

In Matthew 24, Christ is teaching the same literal truths about Israel that all of the prophets describe. He doesn’t describe Israel’s conversion in Matthew 24, but that is described in many other prophecies. All of the prophecies give the same literal plan for Israel: rejection of Jesus as Christ, dispersion, judgment, conversion, restoration.

What about Matthew 21:43?

“Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.”

If this verse were isolated, it could teach that God was finished with Israel and that the church has replaced Israel, but it cannot possibly teach that since Christ Himself said that He is not finished with Israel. He said they would not see Him TILL they repent (Mt. 23:39).

Christ always described a literal physical kingdom on earth. He said “They shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God (Lu. 13:29).

Christ gave the parable in Luke 19:11-27 specifically to teach that the kingdom of God would not come at that time but would come after the king would go into a far country and then return (Lu. 19:12). After he returns he will reward his servants and judge his enemies. This describes the church age followed by the establishment of an earthly kingdom, exactly as we see throughout Scripture.

Acts 1 also tells us that Christ taught that the kingdom of Israel will be restored.

After His resurrection, He spoke to the disciples “of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (Ac. 1:3).

It is obvious that the kingdom Christ taught them about was the kingdom promised in Old Testament prophecy and that He had not taught them that the church has replaced Israel, because just before He ascended, the disciples asked, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Ac. 1:6).

They believed that Israel’s kingdom would be restored, they just didn’t know when.

Christ’s reply makes it doubly clear that they were all on the same page about the future of Israel’s kingdom. He said,

“It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Ac. 1:7-8).

If the disciples had still misunderstood Christ’s teaching about Israel’s kingdom, this would have been the perfect time to have corrected their thinking. But Christ didn’t say, “You are confused; there is no restoration of Israel’s kingdom.” Instead, He told them that the timing of the re-establishment of the kingdom is God’s business, and they need to focus on their own business in this present time, which is preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Acts 15

The apostolic conference in Acts 15 says that God is not finished with Israel.

The conference was for the purpose of deciding the issue of whether Gentile believers must follow the law of Moses (Acts 15:1).

The determination by the apostles and prophets was that they are not so obligated, because the law of Moses was a heavy yoke, whereas salvation is by God grace (Acts 15:10-11).

They understood that the purpose of the present time or age or dispensation is for God to take out of the Gentiles a people for His name (Acts 15:14). That is a description of the church age in a nutshell. Elsewhere Paul speaks of the fulness of the Gentiles coming in (Ro. 11:25). This tells us that there is an end to the church as far as who will belong to it. There is no end to the church (Eph. 3:21), but there is an end to the church age during which the church is being gathered together. The church age has a beginning and an end.

In his summary, James shows that this is conformable to the teaching of the Old Testament prophets. He quotes from Amos to show that the prophets taught that God would restore the house of David after it was fallen down and would rebuild its ruins, and at that time there would be Gentiles who call on the name of the Lord (Amos 9:11-12). James is not saying that the house of David is restored in the church. To the contrary, he is saying that it will be restored in the future and that when it is restored there will exist saved Gentiles. That implies the salvation of Gentiles before the restoration of Israel’s kingdom, which hints at the church age. This does not contradict the teaching that the church is a mystery. It is a mystery and was nowhere revealed in Old Testament prophecy, yet there are hints of the church age in the Old Testament that can now be understood in hindsight.

What is indisputable is that the apostles believed that the kingdom of David would be literally restored, and it will be restored in the future and it is not currently restored in the church age.

The apostles interpreted the prophecy of Amos 9:8-15 literally.

Romans 11

Paul says in Romans 11 that God is not finished with Israel.

This passage clearly teaches that God is not finished with Israel and that the church has not replaced Israel.

As there is a casting away of Israel, so there will be a receiving of Israel which will be associated with the resurrection of the dead (Ro. 11:15). Daniel also associates the restoration of Israel with the resurrection (Da. 12:1-2).

The church, though different from Israel, is closely associated with spiritual Israel (Ro. 11:16-24).
– The root is not Israel herself. The root is Abraham’s covenant and Abraham’s Seed Jesus Christ. Both the church and Israel are connected with this root. There is one tree and multiple branches. An Old Testament saint like Samuel and a New Testament saint like Apollos are both children of Abraham. Some of the natural branches growing from the root were broken off because of unbelief, and when they repent they will be grafted back in. The natural branches refer to Israel by nature; the Jews are by nature the children of Abraham, but the natural cannot inherit the spiritual kingdom of God.
– Professing Christians, too, should fear lest they be found to be in unbelief (Ro. 11:20-21). This is the same type of warning as in Hebrews 3:12 – 4:3. It is a warning about professing Christ without possessing Christ through saving faith.

Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in (Ro. 11:25-27). This is the New Testament teaching about the church and the church age and Israel in a nutshell. Israel is in spiritual blindness today, and that is what we see in modern Israel, but God isn’t finished with blind Israel. She will be saved and converted, and God’s covenants with her will be fulfilled. Words could not be plainer.

When Paul says that “all Israel shall be saved,” he is referring to Israel as Israel and not to every Israelite. This is clear in comparing Scripture with Scripture. All Israel will be saved in the sense of the 12 tribes. Ezekiel tells us that God will restore Judah and Israel and they will be one (Eze. 37:15-20). But Zechariah tells us that only one-third of individual Israelites living in that day will be converted (Zec. 13:8-9). Elsewhere, Paul stated that a remnant of Israel will be saved (Ro. 9:27).

The Book of Revelation

Finally, the book of Revelation says that God is not finished with Israel.

In fact, the book of Revelation can be outlined according to a distinction between the church and Israel. In chapters 1-3, the churches are addressed, but in Revelation 4:1, John is caught up to heaven and after that we don’t see the churches on earth.

In Revelation 7, 12,000 individuals from each of 12 tribes of Israel are sealed (Re. 7:1-8). The names of the tribes are given. Here we see that the 12 tribes of Israel have not ceased to exist before God and that He knows who and where they are and they have a future in His prophetic plan. The witness for God in the earth during the Tribulation is Israel, not the church.

In Revelation 8, the prayers of the saints are prayers for judgment. Only Israel prayed such prayers. Church-age saints are instructed to pray for her enemies, not against them (Lu. 9:51-56). The imprecatory prayers of Revelation are those of the Psalms and are based on God’s promise to Abraham to curse those that cursed him and his seed (Ge. 12:1-3).

In Revelation 9, the scorpion-like creatures are given freedom to hurt all earth-dwellers except those Jews who were sealed by the angel of Revelation 7. If church-age believers were on earth, they would be subject to this horrible judgment of God.

Revelation 10 identifies the events of Revelation 4-18 with those foretold by Old Testament prophets–the days of the Great Tribulation, the “Day of the Lord.” The church age was never in the view of these Old Testament prophecies; it was a mystery not yet revealed. The church has a different purpose and program than national Israel. It is Israel that is in view in Old Testament prophecy and in Revelation 4-18.

The ministry of the two witnesses of Revelation 11 identifies them with national Israel and with Old Testament prophecies of the “Day of the Lord.” The two witnesses minister from Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. The church has no such capital, her hope being heavenly, not earthly (Col. 3:1-4Php. 3:17-21). The two witnesses are associated with the rebuilt Jewish temple, which is measured at the beginning of the prophecy, telling us that this is when it will be built. The two witnesses are clothed in sackcloth, which speaks of Israel. The sackcloth signifies repentance from sin and sorrow because of some calamity (1 Ki. 21:272 Ki. 19:1Est. 4:1Isa. 15:3Jer. 4:8). Nowhere are the churches seen in sackcloth. The churches are told, rather, to “rejoice in the Lord alway” (Php. 4:4). The church-age believer’s judgment is forever past, and he is to keep his mind centered in the heavenlies where, positionally, he is already seated with Christ (Eph. 2:5-10). Revelation 11:4 identifies the two witnesses with the Old Testament prophecy of Zechariah 4:31114. Further, the two witnesses call down judgment upon their enemies in Revelation 10:5-6. Jesus rebuked his disciples for desiring to do just this and instructed the church-age believer to pray for the well-being of his enemies, not for their destruction (Lu. 9:54-56Ro. 12:1417-21). None of this is church ground. This is Israel ground. This is literal Jerusalem, literal Jewish temple ground.

The devil persecutes Israel, not the church, during the Tribulation (Re. 12). There can be no doubt that the woman in this chapter signifies Israel. Verse 5 shows the woman bringing forth Christ, and it is obvious that Jesus was brought forth by Israel, not by the church (Isa. 9:6-7Ro. 9:5). Also, the symbols of Revelation 12:1-2 recall familiar Old Testament typology of Israel. She is referred to as a woman (Isa. 54:5-7). The sun and moon and the 12 stars of verse 2 bring us directly to Joseph’s dream regarding Israel (Ge. 37:9). The words of Revelation 12:2 are almost an exact quote from Micah 5:3, speaking of Israel’s delivery of the Messiah. These symbols are not used in the New Testament to refer to the churches.

EXAMINING THE PROOF TEXTS FOR REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY

For an examination of proof texts used to teach that the church is Israel, see the free eBook What about Steven Anderson?

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The above is excerpted from the new book WHAT ABOUT STEVEN ANDERSON?, which is available in print or as a free eBook.

Anderson is an Independent Baptist preacher who has growing influence through his YouTube videos and movies. This review of his teaching deals with the following errors:

Holocaust denial
Replacement Theology
Rejection of biblical Repentance
The heresy that salvation doesn’t have evidence
Cursing of homosexuals
Christ suffering in hell as an atonement for sin
The denial of the imminency of the Rapture

We give extensive proof that God is not finished with Israel and that the church is not Israel and defend the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

Lessons From Five Years Of Pastoring

Introduction

I have been an associate pastor of a country church in Greenville, SC for five years. This article is a combinations of observations and lessons I have made and learned during my time pastoring. I hope this helps current pastors, soon to be pastors and even gives insight for those who are not pastors, but sit in the pews. This essay contains no real names or details that would reveal anything more than the general idea of the situations presented in it. It is my prayer God will use something in it to help folks pray for their pastor, encourage some pastor and give comfort to any pastor going through something described herein. God bless,  – Rev. Kenneth D. Willis

Concerning Taking A Church  

Be Completely Honest And Thorough In Disclosing Your Doctrinal Positions.

When the pulpit committee or congregation ask you what you believe about doctrinal positions, tell them exactly what you believe. No one likes surprises after the fact. If they will not accept your convictions and beliefs up front, then they will not after you become pastor. Honesty will never come back to harm you.

Listen to the advice of other pastors concerning a church before you accept  a position.

There is safety in a multitude of counselors. If possible, get private opinions of other pastors you trust as to their take on the church at which you are a candidate. Their opinion is not gospel, but it is valuable and objective. You will be in such a state mentally that objective advice is a blessing. They may see something you cannot in the cloud of emotion that will come when you are seriously considering such a life transition as taking a pastorate. I did this and a pastor gave me some warnings about something he noticed; as it turns out, his warning would be something I would deal with for much of my time. If a fellow pastor tells you not to take the church, I would advise an extended time of review, prayer and consideration. No man is the Holy Spirit, but older men have insight that only experience can bring. 

Do your homework to find out what has gone on there in the past

Obviously you cannot be the CIA, but you can do your part by trying to find out everything possible about the church into which you will stake your reputation and effort. If people there do not want to answer your questions or become defensive, run! No church is perfect but if the general consensus is that a church is rife with controversy and cover ups, then it very well may be–either way, it will be perceived as such for quite some time. If there has been a past church split. Find out why and who initiated it. It may be that the split was Biblical and the troublesome party is long gone. On the other hand, the split may have been satanic and the culprit may be in a position of leadership. If you know of people who left the church, contact them and ask them why they left. This is a part of being a diligent shepherd and could save you a world of heartache and headache.

Be careful of folks that seek to become your bosom friend right away. 

When you first arrive as the new pastor, people will approach you and begin winning your friendship and confidence. But you must always be aware that it may be for wrong motives. It is easy to be flattered and puffed up by someone who is a master manipulator. Learning people takes time and you need to take time to do it. Time and observation will reveal if someone is using you or manipulative. Treat everyone with love and kindness, and be wise.

Those in leadership must be evaluated immediately.

If you are taking the pastor position and everyone else is in a lay position, it is wise to examine who they are and what they are teaching–at church and away from church. You cannot have someone in leadership who defies what the church represents away from church, in their work lives or social media. Leadership is a privilege, not a right. If separation is too high a price for someone to pay, then leadership is as well. When we are leaders, we have to be extra careful what we do and say–period. It seems unfair, but this is life. Another area you must immediately get a grasp on is what people are teaching. You will get nowhere if you preach one thing in the pulpit and others are teaching the opposite in Sunday school classrooms children’s church programs. Your leadership must first of all adhere to the Scriptures, but they should adhere to the church statement of faith and not be undermining what is preached in the pulpit. If someone leaves over being asked to be separated and unified, you have not lost anything, but have avoided catastrophe.

Concerning Counseling

Have the compassion of Christ.

Love is the most important quality you can have and it will take you farther than the wisdom of Solomon.

Do most of your counseling from the pulpit.

Many folks will come to you to find validation for what they have already decided to do or not do. If you will proclaim the Word of God and expound the Scriptures with application from the pulpit, the less sincere will know exactly what your answer will be.

Do not spiritualize physical problems.

When someone is ill or dealing with a physical or medical problem, refer them to a physician and do not burden them with thinking their affliction is spiritual. Yes, deal with the spiritual issues where applicable, but people have souls and bodies. We help the soul as much as possible, but we can do little for the body. By spiritualizing a physical issue, you harm the person and increase the risk of them not getting the proper help.

Concerning Youths

You must do everything you can to protect the children of your church.

It only takes one incident of abuse to put your church in national headlines. It is a sad but real fact. You are the shepherd of the flock and especially the little lambs. Jesus showed great indignation against the mistreatment and misguidance of little ones. Run background checks on everyone who works with children in your ministry. If they get upset or refuse. Let them leave; you are preventing disaster. Put your folks through abuse training and keep a close eye on the children. If you can, cameras are awesome, but most small churches cannot afford them. Use a strict code of accountability where no one person is ever alone with children. This will not only protect the children, but will protect your people from false accusations.

Problematic teens often are not receiving good examples at home.

It is not always true, but many times it is indicative that the parents are either not providing spiritual training or are providing negative examples. You cannot help it if parents are doing their job, but if you know the parents are not, then it falls you in your pastoral duty to lovingly encourage the parents to help implement more positive spiritual examples and training for their child. While some parents want to blame pastors for their children’s rebellion and lifestyles, we must remember that we only have them for a maximum of four hours per week. One-hundred and sixty four hours are spent away from church per week and that time is beyond the pastor’s reach.

The youths of America are in great peril spiritually.

From what I have observed in teenagers these last five years, I can say that we need to all be on our knees every day interceding for them. They are facing more opportunities to ruin their lives than any group of youths in history. The spirit of disobedience and rebellion is rampant today; and teens today are shamelessly disrespectful and openly rebellious like never before.

Concerning Being Single

If you can pastor single, do it.

You will never have the time to study like that of a single pastor. It may sound harsh, but after you become married and if children come, you are not going to have the time you once did. Period. If you find yourself still single, use the time wisely to study and digest all the Scripture and reading possible.

Never be alone with a female.

Just save yourself a lot of trouble and do not even create a possibility for any accusation. If you are going to date, just be in places where no one could make a believable accusation. Do not counsel a female without her parents present or another witness. Never close a door without having a witness present. Be insistent and stick to this with iron resolve and no one will be able to falsely accuse you.

You do have the answers for married folks.

This may sound arrogant, but it is true. True, you may not have years of marriage experience, but if you keep your marriage counseling and preaching to exactly what the Scriptures say concerning the topic, you will never err. For deeper help, you can refer folks to married couples and conservative couples books, but let not your singleness keep you from preaching on marriage.

Concerning Getting Married

If you desire to get married, pursue it.

If you desire marriage, pursue it. Getting married will open up your area of ministry and provide you with unimaginable encouragement and support like never before. Though you will lose some study time, you will have another set of eyes, ears and a wonderful ministry partner that you can spend your life with. The benefits of marriage are numerous and outweigh the loss of study time. It is not good for man to be alone.

Choose wisely. 

If you are pursuing marriage, your candidates will be fewer as a pastor. And you must carefully examine the ones that do wish to pursue marriage. Some women want to marry a pastor to have a personal priest. Some think that pastors make great money and live a life of luxury. These are fantasies. Find a woman who loves Christ more than you, who will support you and follow you and marry her. She will be your number one cheerleader and congregation member. Her spiritual life comes before that of your church. Put her first in your life, after Christ, and you will avoid the pitfall many have made in putting their ministry ahead of their spouse and family.

Concerning Missionaries

Examine your missionaries.

Upon taking a church, you normally inherit missionaries that have been supported for years. It is still wise to check into their ministries and lives to ensure the church is supporting them with the LORD’s money, it is your duty to ensure it is not being wasted. Set up a system to carefully evaluate potential missionaries before voting them in only to find out they have marital problems, doctrinal differences, or a poor work ethic. Nip things in the bud early on and avoid the embarrassment of having to remove them later. There are many quality missionaries out there who are working tireless to spread the Gospel and wage war on the kingdom of Satan. They need our help and what funds we can give.

If Possible Support Missionaries From Your Congregation

The idea of supporting missionaries whom you do not know and whom you will not see but once every five years amazes me. It is much safer and effective to support missionaries who have come from within your congregation. It is rarely possible, but ideal to fully support them as staff of your church. This would be my preference. This eliminates the need for a mission board and gives your church direct control over what they do and keeps higher accountability. Mission boards can be kept in the dark quite easily, but it is hard for a wayward missionary to hide it from their church if there is no middle man.

Concerning Finances

Never, ever, ever put yourself over the finances. Ever.

Stay away from the financial steering wheel. Appoint faithful men who can keep things confidential and who are skilled in detail-oriented work to handle the finances. I never had the authority to write checks. I refused to have the power. This kept me from ever being accused or even thought of as one who could abuse the finances. There is nothing wrong with having  a debit card if needed, but never have direct or unlimited access to the bank account. It is better to do things out of pocket and submit a reimbursement request.

There Must Be Accountability.

The finance committee or officer(s) should never be related. Having two or more members of the same family writing checks is questionable at best and will inherently lead to distrust and scrutiny of mishandling finances. The pastor should know how much money the church has, but not who is giving it. That kind of practice will lead to favoritism and subconsciously affect how we deal with certain people. Personal giving is between the individual and God. Pastors should avoid money handling if at all possible.

Understand What God Says About Tithing.

This point goes along with the one above, but no practice is more abused in preaching and church operations like that of tithing. Demanding people tithe to be a member of the church is both unscriptural and conveying that those who do not or cannot are somehow second class members and not people whose opinions and lives matter. I have written an article on VITW that deals with the Scripture’s commands on tithing so I will not re-preach it here. In short, there is no command for Christians to tithe under the New Covenant. That applied to national Israel and was primarily involving food. We are commanded to be good stewards and give cheerfully and generously to support the work of Christ. Trusted, orthodox men of God through the centuries have realized and preached that tithing is not commanded in the New Testament and when Christ commanded it He was speaking to the Pharisees under the Old Covenant. If someone tells your people that they must tithe and write the amounts on envelopes for accountability, that person is not only wrong, but out of line and probably interested in something other than the church’s well-being. I had to stop a man in the middle of his sermon when he said exactly that. It turns out he was out to overthrow me, the senior pastor and had a history of that sort of thing (all discovered later). If people feel like all a church wants is their money, it is probably because they only want people’s money.

Concerning Divisions

You must be able to confront a non-repentant divider.

This is the most discouraging and destructive thing a church will experience, but if you cannot confront people causing division, you will fail as a pastor. It is hard; it is awkward. Of all the experiences I have had so far, confronting divisive people is by far the most gut-wrenching discomfort ever. Yet, as the shepherd of the flock, you must be willing and able to do it. If you wait for the perfect time, or the convenient moment, they will never come. You stay calm, you pray, you have as much love as possible, but you boldly rebuke and if necessary remove someone who continues to cause division. I have had to do this personally twice and I hated every second of it. But even now, I know it was the right and necessary thing to do. In both cases, the division was caused openly and publicly, therefore I dealt with it openly and publicly.

Heresy must be stopped and corrected.

Nothing will keep a pastor busy putting out fires like the spread of false teaching. It must be addressed immediately. Obviously quiet confrontation is best, but that may not be enough. Sometimes it demands more direct confrontation and even removing someone from teaching. On two occasions I have had to do this and then preach a message dealing with the false teaching, systematically refuting it and helping the congregation be equipped to avoid and defend against it in the future. On both occasions, the one teaching false doctrine left the church. It hurt, but if you cannot do it, pastoring is not for you.

Open insurrection must be ended.

One regret I have is not seeing insurrection fast enough on one occasion and that it could not have been stopped sooner. By the time it was dealt with, the divider had planted his seeds in many people and even after he left, he continued to pull others away from the church. I look back on that incident as the least pleasant time in my ministry. I am a peace loving man and never want to start something that does not have to happen or escalate a situation without absolute necessity. But an overcautious approach  can be as destructive as nuclear overreactions. Learning the balance takes time and experience.

You must be able to spot a manipulator.

The manipulator is a dangerous snake because they often appear to be noble and a close friend. They are unfortunately good at what they do and have most likely succeeded before. They will do or say almost anything required to gain the popularity of the majority and will manipulate whomever necessary to boost their own power or influence over others. I have witnessed unbelievable skill in manipulation, but the greatest weapon you have is the Holy Spirit. He will make plain the designs of such people and even allow them to be caught in the very snares they set. You must pray fiercely over such an issue and ask the Spirit to reveal the truth and foil manipulators’ plans. You must also have a spine of steel. If you budge to the whims of a manipulator, they will only become bolder.

Concerning Legal Matters

Know what you are obligated to report to Law Enforcement.

Saying “I did not know” will at least make you look incredibly stupid and at worst can land you in prison. As a pastor it is your duty to know basic laws concerning what is legally required of you in certain situations. You cannot be a lawyer, but at least be familiar with your property law, basic criminal law and when it is time to report things to the authorities.

Always report child abuse. PERIOD.

There is absolutely no excuse for keeping child abuse quiet. You will end up in prison and rightly so. I have only had to deal with this once. It was completely a shock and because of who it was and their ministry status; it created quite a mess. I was informed and handed compelling evidence that child abuse was going on. Within 15 minutes, I was on the phone with DSS making the report. Waiting to reconcile and counsel the guilty party before you report to the authorities is a crime in South Carolina and many other states. Once you become aware of child abuse or even suspicion of it, you must report it or you can do prison time. In the case I dealt with, I had photographic and testimonial evidence from multiple people. I immediately consulted my former pastor and took kept digital notes of everything I knew, names, and who I had notified. I was put in contact with a DSS caseworker and cooperated with her and at the request of the police, answered their questions on multiple occasions. Everything they said to me and that I said was documented and filed online. The police and DSS both communicated how pleased they were with my cooperation and that is how it ought to be. If a pastor covers up something like this, he ought to resign and be prosecuted–which often happens. Stay above reproach and remember Christ’s words concerning those who offend little ones. It is better they have a millstone tied around their neck and be hurled into the sea. I confronted both parents after having informed DSS and they immediately left the church. I did everything legally and spiritually required. As stressful and shocking as the ordeal was, it could have made national news had I failed to perform my legal obligations. The cause of Christ does not need another cover up.

Concerning Church Government

Follow the Scriptural model for church government.

When someone tells you your church should not have deacons, that should throw up a major red flag. The Scripture gives two offices for a church: elders and deacons. The pastor (bishop, elder) is to rule the church with the deacons helping him with caring for the congregation. I was once informed by someone that he believed all the men in the church were elders. Much to my shock, I tried to explain that he was not an elder and that only men qualified for pastoral leadership can claim that position. Sometimes folks just do not know, and sometimes they do not want to follow the Bible’s structure because they are not qualified to lead by those standards so they must invent their own structure. Again, that should raise a major red flag. The church is not to be ruled by a committee, trustee or any other concocted invention. God has set forth clear qualifications for pastors as the shepherds and deacons as servants.

Concerning Prayer

This will be the most difficult part of ministry to encourage participation in. You can get a huge crowd in many ways, but it will never be in the prayer meeting. Leonard Ravenhill said often, “No man is greater than his prayer life and no church is greater than its prayer meeting.” This cannot be stressed enough. The church’s power comes from prayer. And if no one wants to pray, nothing can or will happen. With all your being, push the prayer meeting, and push prayer. Prayer will drive the church away from sin and failure to pray will drive a church into the morgue.

The prayer meeting will reveal many things in a way nothing else will.

You will never grow closer to anyone than praying with them. The prayer meeting will reveal the spiritual condition of your church. I do not mean long and deep prayers indicate spirituality; Christ warned against that. But the Holy Spirit’s presence in the prayer meeting will guide the church, reprove sin and draw the church closer together than a million sermons. If someone is struggling, hurting, or putting on, the prayer meeting will lay it bare to a discerning heart. When all else fails, pray brother pray.

Concerning Outreach

This must be a major part of your church’s drive.

The mission of a church is to reach the lost and make disciples. Failing either part means failing as a church. Just as important as teaching and preaching to the saints is reaching the lost. If you do not value soul winning, your congregation will not either. A church not bringing in the lost will be taken out to pasture eventually. This is a struggle today with more and more cultural disapproval of door to door efforts. I understand the difficulty and in some cases, danger. The most effective method I have witnessed is to hand out flyers and gospel literature in mass amounts. Funding can be a problem for small churches, but if everyone does a part, it is amazing what God can do when His people are willing.

Concerning Preaching & Teaching

This is the most important aspect of ministry and cannot be neglected at any cost.

Souls are saved and saints are edified by the preaching of the Word. Nothing can replace that and nothing must. If the preaching is lacking, the church will suffer. There is no excuse for poor preaching. Charles Spurgeon had much more to say on this and much less gentle touch in saying it. If our preaching is lacking, we must take the blame and correct it. Inability is another issue, and sadly exists in many pulpits, but it is not the same as slack preparation. The greatest sin of modern preaching is laziness in the study. And the Church of Christ suffers greatly for it.

Preach The Text.

The greatest temptation in the pulpit is to preach your heart. God’s people do not need to hear your heart, they need to hear the Word of God. Focus your eyes on the text and dive into the depths of God’s infallible Word, in which you must strive with all your being to expound the depths to your congregation. Your preaching must contain the simple milk for babes and strong meat for students of Scripture. If every point in your sermon is for children’s ears, you are failing to unearth the depths of truth. And if every point is only for the devoted student of Scripture, the babes in Christ will starve. There must be balance and abundance for all who hear you. I cannot count how many times in my life I have heard a wonderful, polished sermon that had nothing to do with the actual meaning of the text. Every text taken out of context becomes a pretext and can easily be filled with anti-text. Preach the text and enjoy the safety of remaining in the guard rails of Scripture.

Teach The Whole Counsel.

Teach through books, Testaments and help folks connect the dots of the Scripture as a whole. Topical messages can work under special circumstances and divine intervention. As stated above, we must preach the meaning of the text. Part of understanding the text is realizing the Scripture is its own commentary. Therefore it is greatly beneficial and crucial to examine the Scriptures in their entirety and so teach from the entirety of them.

Conclusion

These are my thoughts and observations from five years of pastoral ministry. I wrote these originally for my benefit, but I hope they help some man of God out there who would read them. There is no one out there who has perfect answers for everything and I have learned much from experience–the best teacher. May Christ be with you and may His Spirit guide you as He promised He would. May the LORD bless and may you fight the good fight in His strength. Amen.