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Replacement Theology

Replacement Theology (aka Supersessionism) is a Christian theology that is defined by the conviction that the Christian church (i.e., the congregation of believers, both Jews and non-Jews past and present, that place their faith in the blood of Jesus as the only blood atonement acceptable to God) has superseded the nation of Israel as God’s covenanted people, thus asserting that the New Covenant through Jesus Christ has superseded or replaced the Mosaic covenant that was exclusive to Jews.

I know it isn’t popular to say in modern religious circles, especially in those segments that embrace some form of religious pluralism, but anyone who believes the teachings of Jesus as recorded in the B’rit Hadashah (New Testament) will essentially agree with replacement theology. Jesus himself said it, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). And, as Jesus passed the cup of wine to his disciples (all of them Jews) in the upper room on the first night of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (also called the Passover) just before his crucifixion, Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the new testament (covenant), which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matt. 26:28) In this day and age, the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-34) is the only way to have one’s sins removed and to receive atonement (at-one-ment) with the God of Israel.

Does this mean that Jewish people who have not received Jesus as their Redeemer are going to hell when they die? The Scriptures tell us that ALL people who die without the remission of their sins by faith in Jesus will be banished from the face of God in eternity, and since Jews are included in the category “all people,” then that applies to them as well.

But, what about their Jewish faith, is it of no efficacy? No, not for atonement to eternal salvation. The Law of Moses made it very plain that the only way to achieve atonement was with an offering of blood in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple. None of the subsequent prophets of Israel did away with what Moses had written. Even the last prophet of Israel, Malachi, did not condemn offering sacrifices for atonement. He simply said that the way they were being offered was not acceptable to God for atonement. Since the year 70 CE, the way of atonement commanded by Moses has been impossible to fulfill, and seeking atonement without a sacrifice of blood has been meaningless. However, God made a way to gain atonement through an offering of sacrificial blood possible once the Temple system was brought to an end.

In Isaiah, chapter 53, the prophet Isaiah revealed that one like a lamb would die (offer his blood) for the remission of sins , a sacrificial act foreshadowed two-thousand years earlier when God asked Abraham to offer the blood of Isaac his beloved son and then provided a substitute so that the seed line of blessing would continue, eventually to bring forth the Messiah of Israel who would be a blessing to all families of the world. The rabbis omit reciting Isaiah 53 during the Haftarah readings in synagogues, and a simple reading reveals why:

Who believes our report? To whom is the arm of Adonai revealed? For before him he grew up like a young plant, like a root out of dry ground. He was not well-formed or especially handsome; we saw him, but his appearance did not attract us. People despised and avoided him, a man of pains, well acquainted with illness. Like someone from whom people turn their faces, he was despised; we did not value him. In fact, it was our diseases he bore, our pains from which he suffered; yet we regarded him as punished, stricken and afflicted by God. But he was wounded because of our crimes, crushed because of our sins; the disciplining that makes us whole fell on him, and by his bruises we are healed. We all, like sheep, went astray; we turned, each one, to his own way; yet Adonai laid on him the guilt of all of us. Though mistreated, he was submissive, he did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to be slaughtered, like a sheep silent before its shearers, he did not open his mouth. After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves. He was given a grave among the wicked; in his death he was with a rich man. Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive, yet it pleased Adonai to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering. If he does, he will see his offspring; and he will prolong his days; and at his hand Adonai’s desire will be accomplished. After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction. By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers. Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders.” … Isaiah 53 as translated in the Complete Jewish Bible 

After reading the above passage from Isaiah, ask yourself who is the righteous servant being talked about in that passage. The rabbis will tell you that Isaiah was speaking about the remnant of Israel, but a fair reading of the prophet’s words indicate that he was foretelling the advent of an individual—a righteous servant in the eyes of God—who would mediate a New Covenant for both Israel and the Gentile world through his death (Isa. 42:1-7). When you examine Jewish history, there is only one Jewish individual in history who has done that. The New Covenant mediated by Jesus with his sacrificial blood is the only way to have atonement and be one with God today, and that is true for Jews and Gentiles alike. One God, One Covenant, One People.

The redemptive promise made to Abraham was fulfilled by his descendant Jesus when he mediated the New Covenant. The land promise made to Abraham is still applicable to the Jewish people.

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