It’s tragic that Israel didn’t see the fulfillment of their own religion when Jesus revealed Himself to them. That is why God destroyed them in AD 70 via the Roman armies. If they had (as one people) recognized Jesus as their Messiah, today they would be viewed in the context of Christianity, not in the context of Judaism. They would be viewed as a Christian nation, as those who worship the Lord Jesus Christ—as part of the Church, where all believers are one in Christ, both Jew and Gentile. In other words, Christianity is the completion of Judaism. What God began with the religion of Israel, He completed in His Son and the Christian faith.
This is a wonderful revelation. I believe it reveals that there could not have been a separate plan for the nation of Israel apart from the Church (Dispensationalism), because if they had received Jesus when He appeared to them, they themselves would be a part of the Church. Therefore, the idea that God originally had a plan for Israel apart from the Church simply makes no sense. Accordingly, it doesn’t make sense that God would have a separate plan for Israel now. God’s will all along was that the Jewish religion would have it’s fulfillment in Christ and the Christian faith. If they had recognized Jesus as their Messiah, they would have recognized their fulfillment in Him and His Church. They would have recognized their true identity as a spiritual nation in Christ (along with all other believers, Jew and Gentiles), not as an ethnic nation.
I think this connection also explains why both Israel and Christians are the target of so much hatred by the people of the world. We both represent the truth. The difference is, Israel doesn’t recognize their true end, which is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Role of Israel Today
One of my readers wrote and asked me a question about Israel and the Church, and as I was thinking about this question, I realized that there was an aspect to this whole discussion that I’ve never talked about before. The question that many may have in regard to Fulfillment Theology (that Israel has its fulfillment in Christ and His Church) is, what about Israel today? How does the nation of Israel today fit in with God’s plans? Afterall, it does exist today as a nation.
First, there’s no doubt that Israel came back into their land (1948) by the providence of God. It should also be noted that Israel today only occupies a very tiny area of the land that God originally gave to them. That promise will actually be fulfilled in the Eternal Kingdom of “the new heaven and the new earth” of Revelation 21 and 22. The promised land always had that in view, as a type and shadow. The “new earth” of the Eternal Kingdom is the true promised land.
Also, though Israel continues to exist as an ethnic nation today, that was never meant to be its end. It’s true end is in Christ and His Church. If the whole nation of Israel were to ever recognize and accept Jesus as their Messiah, they would then be a Christian nation. The whole purpose of Fulfillment Theology is to explain from the Scriptures that Israel has its fulfillment and continuation in Christ and His Church as a spiritual nation (1 Pe 2:4-10) — that Christ Himself is true Israel — and that God does not have a separate plan for the nation of Israel apart from the Church. The plan for the people of national Israel is the same as it is for everyone else, that each person turn to Christ as Lord and Savior. The long awaited kingdom of the Jewish Messiah is fulfilled in the Church. The Church is the Kingdom of Christ. The Kingdom is Now.
The fact that Israel exists today as an unbelieving nation, serves as a testimony of their rejection of Christ. Thus they may exist as a nation, but God does not recognize them as His people as He did before Christ came and fulfilled God’s covenant promises to them. Jesus fulfilled all things that were required of Israel. He accomplished what they failed to accomplish, what they could not accomplish. He fulfilled the will of the Father perfectly. Thus, as Paul says in Galatians 3:16, the promises to the seed of Abraham were actually and literally made to Christ Himself, and not to the actual physical descendants of Abraham (Israel). Thus if the promises were made to Christ, and not to the physical offspring of Abraham (Israel), then the promises to Israel are fulfilled in Him—the perfect Jew, the true Israel, a nation of One. We as the Church in Christ (both Jew and Gentile), are spiritual Israel in Him.
When God raised up the nation of Israel of the Old Testament as His people, it was with His Son in view. Once Jesus came and fulfilled the promises to Israel, everything changed. No longer is the nation of Israel the people of God. That would only be true if the people of Israel as a whole (led by their religious leaders) recognized and accepted Jesus as their Messiah—as their Lord and Savior. Again, they would no longer be a Jewish nation (Judaism), but a Christian nation—and that would be their end, as members of Christ’s Church. The prophesied Kingdom is the Church. Again, the land promises to Israel are fulfilled in the New Jerusalem of the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:1-2).
The existence of the nation of Israel today, in their continuous rejection of Christ, serves as a continuous witness against them. The light of Christ through His Church shines brightly in the world. Yet, they still dwell in darkness. That is their end as a nation. There is no further plan for them as a nation. God destroyed them in AD 70. As Jesus said, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate” (Matt 23:38). That’s it. That was the outward sign of God’s rejection of them as His people corporately. That’s the end of Israel in the plan of God. Now it’s up to individual Jews to receive Jesus as their Messiah—as their Lord, Savior, and King.
As a final note, I believe it’s possible that there will be a mass turning to Christ among the Jews shortly before the return of Christ, when they observe the final events of history unfold, where God chooses to extend grace to many of them—but still only as a “remnant” of Israel throughout their existence (Ro 9:27; Ro 11:5). If that does happen, then they will individually become members of spiritual Israel, which is the Church in Christ. Once the Church is complete, when all those who are going to be saved, get saved, then Jesus will return and we will all be resurrected (rapture is part of the same event) in our glorified bodies, God pours out His wrath on an unbelieving world, and we enter into the Eternal Kingdom of Revelation 21 and 22—our eternal state. There will be no 1000 year, millennial kingdom, which is a belief that premillennialists hold. I don’t believe the Bible teaches that at all. I believe the Bible teaches that we go directly into the Eternal Kingdom upon the return of Christ, our resurrection and the Judgement of Rev 20:11-15 (also Ro 14:10-12; 2 Cor 5:10). In other words, I don’t believe the Bible teaches that there will be a millennial kingdom between the return of Christ and our eternal state. The idea that Jesus will rule over a sin-infested world (even as King, there would still be sin), where animal sacrifices are re-introduced and practiced (even though the slain Lamb of God is right there among them as the final sacrifice!!!), and resurrected saints (in our glorified bodies), dwell with sinful, unglorified people, is completely contrary to the overall teaching of Scripture. In fact, I believe the book of Revelation makes it clear that when Jesus returns and believers are resurrected, no one survives the outpouring of God’s wrath upon the unbelieving world. So there won’t even be anyone left to go into this so-called millennial kingdom, either among believers or non-believers (see my commentaries on Rev 11, 16, 20). I have many studies on this website that deals with that subject.